Frustrated Wilson Co. parents, bus drivers look for answers to s - WSMV News 4

Frustrated Wilson Co. parents, bus drivers look for answers to shortage at BOE meeting

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LEBANON, TN (WSMV) -

Parents in Wilson County are hoping for some answers to a school bus driver shortage following a special school board meeting on Monday night.

Some bus routes have been canceled indefinitely because the district doesn't have the drivers. There are no fill-ins for drivers who called in sick, so some days the route cancellations vary because no one else can pick up the shift. 

"There's been times the bus drivers call them last-minute letting [the district] know that there is no bus driver. So [parents have] to figure out how to get to their children -- to pick them up, to get them home," said Karen Moon, a Wilson County parent who has friends affected by the bus route changes.

Moon is a working mother whose teenage son rode the bus until last year. 

"He had second graders in there arguing, fighting, cussing and carrying on, and the bus had to stop and wait for a police officer to get there to control the bus," Moon recalled.

She feels bus drivers deal with a lot for little pay. 

"It is a tough situation. If they gave them more money -- a little bit more to where they would have control over their buses -- then you wouldn't have this issue of shortage with bus drivers," Moon said.

During a special meeting on transportation at the Board of Education, school board member Dr. Donna Wright said the district struggles to keep bus drivers after they obtain the required Commercial Drivers License due to competition from outside agencies that rely on licensed drivers, like tour companies or trucking companies.

Wright said the district's bus-driving laws also conflict with the state's laws, creating confusion from parents who believe the schools are required to provide bus service. Not to mention, she says bus drivers also deal with lack of respect from children and parents.

Officials say the route cancellations are likely to continue until the district can staff the bus routes.

A Wilson county spokesperson said the schools asked for a $2 raise for drivers this year, but the district didn't get it. There's also a challenge in finding qualified people who are willing to drive for the wages and split shifts. 

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