COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) – The Muscogee County School District is still dealing with a bus driver shortage that became particularly pronounced during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to MCSD Director of Transportation Godfrey Jackson. The shortage is causing delays at some school bus stops.

The MCSD said on social media that on Monday, Aug. 8, some buses had delays that were worse than usual for the first day of school.

“We have worked to address those issues and we anticipate all students will be dropped off in the shortest amount of time possible,” they stated.

Jackson said most delays occurred “with the last tier bell” for middle schools. The bus driver shortage isn’t the only thing causing delays at bus stops, he said.

“At times, employee attendance factors into wait times for students at stop locations,” he said.

Jackson said pay is a factor in the shortage, and poor student behavior on school buses scares some potential candidates out of applying. He also said that bus drivers retire every year, and some only stay bus drivers temporarily, “maybe 1-2 years.”

“Some drivers drive the bus while in school, fits their schedule, and seek other employment after graduation,” he said.

The MCSD currently has 63 vacancies for regular bus drivers and 14 vacancies for special needs bus drivers. Jackson said MCSD bus drivers have been paid $17.25 since January 2022. Prior to then, they were paid $14.95. People training to become bus drivers get paid $15.00.

“New trainee pay was implemented prior to the July bus class,” he said. “Previous bus driver trainee pay was $8.00 an hour.

Anyone who wants to become a bus driver for MCSD can apply for the job through the MCSD website.

“I would encourage anyone to follow it up with a phone call so your application can be reviewed,” Jackson said. “This potentially could expedite the process of receiving an interview and being recommended for hire.”