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Columbia school districts working to hire during bus driver shortage

Schools districts in the midlands are reporting a bus driver shortage. These districts are now finding new ways to bring in talent.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — As the school year draws closer, school districts in the Columbia area all seem to be facing a similar problem - a shortage in bus drivers.

This is an issue that has been causing Sonja Donaldson Lawrence a headache for year. Sonja has been a Richland District One school bus driver for decades  and when asked about things changing, she answered, "I really hope so. I've been here 20 years and never seen it like this. This is the worst"

She adds there's a domino effect when school busses aren't running properly.

"That means the kids are getting picked up late, they’re getting to school late, so that no only affects the driver, but it falls down to the cafeteria workers then it effects the teachers."

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News19 reached out to six of the districts in the Columbia area and asked them about bus driver shortages. Of the six, five report having vacancies for the start of school in August.

Credit: WLTX

Districts are finding new ways to recruit talent. According to Jodi Regis, the Safety Training Manager at Richland District two, says her district is offering bonuses, and paid training that can be condensed into a week.

"So we created the 8 hour a day trainers. We can train for at least 4 to 5 hours, conventionally fitting almost everyone's schedule and we can have you trained in a week."

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Kershaw County says that its "transportation team is reviewing bus routes this summer and will make accommodations to ensure that students have safe transportation to school as the new school year begins."

Regis says that being a bus driver is a rewarding experiences and is optimistic that they're get good people to fill the roles.

"They’re the first face they see in the morning, last face they see at the end of the day."

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