Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools face teacher, bus driver vacancies as students report back to class

CMS has close to 930 buses in its fleet and compared to this time last year they’re in a better place when it comes to staffing.
Interim superintendent Hugh Hattabaugh said CMS has 38 driver vacancies as of Monday morning.
Published: Aug. 29, 2022 at 4:50 AM EDT|Updated: Aug. 29, 2022 at 12:34 PM EDT

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Hundreds of bus drivers from Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools hit the road early Monday morning for the first day of school.

They drove from Huntersville to West Charlotte and Mint Hill to Matthews and everywhere in between as class was back in session for the more than 141,000 CMS students. However, the district still needs more drivers.

Interim superintendent Hugh Hattabaugh said CMS has 38 driver vacancies as of Monday morning, but that doesn’t mean students won’t get a ride to school. When needed, drivers are taking on extra routes.

They’ll drive from Huntersville to West Charlotte and Mint Hill to Matthews and everywhere in between. However, the district still needs more drivers.

Hattabaugh added the district has roughly 30 drivers in the pipeline for September. They’re being hired and participating in classes.

CMS has close to 930 buses in its fleet and compared to this time last year they’re in a better place when it comes to staffing.

Last August, CMS needed 80 drivers; now they only need 45. District officials said they plan to hire at least 20 drivers in the next three weeks, and they have a new transportation class starting in mid-September.

While traffic comes at the worst times and delays can happen, CMS transportation director Adam Johnson is reminding everyone to be patient as delays will happen this first week of school.

Related: ‘We want to be on time:’ CMS Transportation Dept. says delays to be expected during first week of school

“Expect some traffic delays. We will do our best to get to you,” Johnson previously said. “Parents, always use your ‘Here Comes the Bus’ app to track your child’s bus and make sure you have that downloaded on your phone so you’re ready for that first day of school.”

In addition to bus drivers, CMS is still trying to fill hundreds of teacher positions.

Just last Friday, the district was at 370 vacancies. On Monday, that number stood at 390. While 20 may not seem like much, that’s 20 classrooms filled with hundreds of students that need a substitute or guest teacher.

CMS Human Resources staff say the number of teacher vacancies has increased since last week. Some of those reasons include people retiring and some who chose to leave teaching altogether.

Interim superintendent Hugh Hattabaugh spoke to reporters before 5:30 a.m. Monday from a CMS bus lot.

District officials said nearly 55 schools are fully staffed. The good news is CMS is hiring more guest teachers who are long-term substitutes that will work in one school.

According to human resources, the district has hired 423 guest teachers, which is more than the 409 that was shared on Friday.