Clover School District tries to fill gaps left by bus driver shortage

CLOVER, S.C. — Many drivers in the Clover School District are taking double routes because of school bus driver shortage affecting districts across the country. The drivers in the district are operating at about a 20% shortage even though the South Carolina General Assembly raised school bus drivers’ salaries by 7.5%.

The problem has created long days for drivers like Barbara Phillips, who has been a bus driver for Clover School District for 26 years.

[CMS to consider pay bump for school bus drivers, but how much?]

“This is the lowest it’s ever been,” she told Channel 9. “We always had drivers every year.”

Transportation director Ross Hunter said they currently have 49 routes in the Clover Schools district and 10 job openings.

Hunter believes he knows why there is a shortage of people applying for jobs despite a salary bump.

“At the end of the day, I think it’s the hours,” Hunter said. “It’s the early morning hours and then it’s the late afternoon.”

Drivers arrive to work at about 5-30 a.m. They go home by late morning and return early in the afternoon.

Because few people want the job, Hunter said almost everyone else must fill in.

“That puts me driving a bus,” he said. “That puts some of our office staff driving a bus.”

In addition, more teachers and other workers are out sick because of COVID-19, so fewer people can fill in as substitute.

Delays trickle down throughout the route, Hunter said.

“It puts the bus 15 or 20 minutes late,” he said. “Then it adds for your second route and your third route.”

There were seven bus drivers who could not work Monday.

Hunters said the problem is compounding as the community grows.

There are 3,000 new homes permitted for construction in the district.

Some will be ready to move into by Christmas.

Hunter said they hope that new bus drivers will move into the homes.

(Watch the video below: CMS to consider pay bump for school bus drivers, but how much?)