AIKEN COUNTY, S.C. (WJBF) — School bus driver shortages are plaguing districts across South Carolina —- including in Aiken County. “Now we’re stuck here waiting because we don’t know what time they’re gonna be here,” Aiken County parent Jamie Mosher told NewsChannel 6’s Aiken Bureau Chief Shawn Cabbagestalk. “It’s kind of like burning the candle at both ends when you don’t have someone to run these routes,” Aiken County Schools Chief Officer of Operations & Student Services Dr. Corey Murphy added.

Aiken County has nearly 40 bus driver openings just a few weeks into the new school year. “That situation is causing us to have double and in some cases, triple routing,” he shared. “They’ve come as late as nine o’clock. So with that, he’s getting marked for his classes too. He’s not making classes on time. He got unexcused, but it has been nonstop since the school bus issues,” Mosher said. Her son Jeremy is one of the more than 13,000 students who ride the bus daily. “My son calls me bus is supposed to come at 7:20. He calls me at 7:45 and he’s like telling me, ‘mom, the bus still isn’t here’. And it was like one of those days where it was torrential downpour. Finally I told him just go in. You’re going have to stay home.”

The South Carolina Department of Education says districts across the state are experiencing shortages. State leaders launched the “Step Up SC” campaign to highlight open bus driver and technician positions across the state. Last year, Aiken County schools offered a $1,000 incentive for bus drivers. “We just approved a substantial raise. I wanna say it was up to 6% in some situations, Dr. Murphy said.

They’re also looking internally. “We kinda shied away from in the past was having dual status employees, where they were working as a bus driver and maybe also as a custodian, but this year that’s being encouraged,” he said.

Parents will receive notifications on late bus arrivals. “We’re looking for different houses. We’re looking to get outta Aiken County. I’m tired of my kids suffering. And I know it’s not just mine,” Mosher said.