Parents scrambling after several Iredell-Statesville Schools bus routes put on pause
Families from at least two schools received emails that some bus routes would be cancelled.
IREDELL COUNTY, N.C. (WBTV) - Parents in Iredell County are scrambling to find transportation to and from school just days before the new school year begins.
Families at schools including Lake Norman High School and Woodland Heights Middle School were informed Thursday night some students won’t have bus service come Monday.
The bus driver shortage is impacting districts across the Carolinas.
Classes for Iredell-Statesville Schools start on Monday, so parents only have a few days to figure out how their children will get to school.
Parents tell WBTV they were aware of the bus driver shortage, but they had hoped the district would find a solution or notify them before now.
“Wednesday I went to orientation, talked to the bus people, everything was great,” parent Jason Seibers told WBTV.
Seibers thought his twin daughters’ freshman year at Lake Norman High School would be off to a smooth start.
But he got an email from Lake Norman High School Thursday night saying that morning bus routes 63, 91 and 375 will be cancelled and afternoon routes 62, 63, 394 and 375 will also be cancelled. It also said bus 31 in the morning route will be bus 98 and it will run approximately 30 minutes later than indicated in PowerSchool.
Woodland Heights Middle School families got a similar email, telling them morning routes 43 and 159 are cancelled and afternoon buses 21 and 46 are cancelled.
“Immediately I was like, how?” parent Denise McHugh said. “How is that even possible? It’s a school. And it’s two days before school starts.”
McHugh believes this could trickle down and affect her first grader’s bus routes. She also says the issue goes far beyond transportation.
“Majority of our students get free breakfast,” she said. “Are they going to extend that? Are they going to have childcare, are kids going to sit around at the end of the day? It’s so much more than being short staffed.”
A spokesperson for Iredell-Statesville Schools sent the following information to WBTV on Friday:
Iredell-Statesville Schools is aware of the issue caused by the bus driver shortage and understands how it greatly impacts our community. Our school and district administrators have worked diligently over the last six months to try to combat this issue. To compete with many neighboring districts, Iredell-Statesville Schools recently increased bus driver pay to start at $17.62 an hour, resulting in the pay ranging between $17.62-$22.43. The district has looked for creative solutions by establishing a financial incentive for any teachers or coaches, who hold a CDL, to drive a bus route.
I-SS Superintendent Jeff James, stated, “The bus driver shortage, along with a shortage of all certified and classified staff, has been a growing concern in public education for many years. Following the pandemic, it has become increasingly difficult to find qualified employees to drive buses, serve lunches, assist teachers, and teach in the classroom. With that said, we are confident that we will begin school on Monday safely and with a committed group of Iredell-Statesville employees eager to serve the children of Iredell County. We respectfully ask for patience and grace from the community as we continue to work to fill vacant positions across the district.”
Impacting other schools?
Other schools in our district are impacted by the bus driver shortage, but just like Lake Norman High School, they are working around the clock to find creative solutions.
We currently have some new bus drivers in the pipeline to complete their driving course. Our desire is to resolve this issue within the next 30 days.
Parents like Seibers hope it gets sorted out quickly.
“I gotta figure out whether I’m going to drive them to school which is a nightmare, and how I’m gonna pick them up in the afternoon, because I don’t get done with work in time for that,” he said.
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