School bus driver shortage
It's a trend hitting school districts all across the country right now, a shortage in school bus drivers.
Several metro Atlanta counties are still trying to fill the gap and Skyfox Traffic's Katie Beasley has a look at what it could mean for your student.
The biggest school district in the state is in the middle of it's largest bus driver shortfall ever. The clock is ticking as Gwinnett County looks to fill drivers for each of their 1,926 school buses.
Buses around metro Atlanta are cranking up and getting ready for a new school year. Atlanta Public Schools are right on track for the first day, but other districts like Cobb, DeKalb and Gwinnett are reporting a shortage in drivers.
"Last year we had 10 bus drivers that we needed to hire before the school year started, this year we're at 64," explains Bernard Watson, the Director of Community Relations Gwinnett County Public Schools.
And that's the biggest gap Gwinnett County Schools has ever had to fill to cover their 52,232 bus stops. "We transport more than 129,000 students back and forth each and every day, that's the third most in the entire country," adds Watson.
It may take some patience, but they say each route will be covered on day one (August 10.) "We're confident that once the school year starts, there might be a few times where buses might be late, but everyone will be transferred to and from school safely," he adds.
This bus driver shortage is something hitting big cities all across the country. "As the economy has started to rebound, it's been harder and harder to recruit drivers to take these positions," Watson says.
Most districts hire drivers year-round, and Gwinnett officials are hoping to get more people interested in the training process. "The hope is by December or so, we will have a lot of those positions filled," adds Watson.
Meanwhile, districts like Gwinnett County are focusing more on student safety, by installing stop arm cameras to catch drivers who don't stop for school buses. "We're talking about qualified and safe drivers. We're talking about our stop arm cameras, and making motorists aware that these buses that you see every day are carrying young people, your kids. They're important and we want to keep them safe so we're doing all we can to make sure that's the case," Watson states.
Here's how the 5 biggest metro Atlanta counties are faring as the school year is right around the corner:
Gwinnett County-- 64 short
Cobb County-- 30 short
DeKalb County-- 10 short
Atlanta Public Schools-- 0 short
Fulton County--0 short