Cooper announces $1M for bus driver training 

North Carolina Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper speaks at the state's National Guard headquarters in Raleigh. Photo via N.C. DPS

RALEIGH — North Carolina Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper will be allocating $1 million in funding to the N.C. Division of Motor Vehicles (NCDMV) for bus driver training in an effort to alleviate bus driver shortages being seen in the state and nationwide. 

“North Carolina desperately needs more school bus drivers and the way to get them is to pay them more and train them faster,” said Cooper in a press release that included criticism of the legislature for not yet passing a budget.  

The governor’s statement said funding for his plan will come from the federal Emergency Assistance for Non-Public Schools (EANS) funds that have reverted to the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) fund. 

The governor announced his plan during a visit to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Public Schools District bus lot.  

Cooper’s release said a primary challenge identified by the NCDMV and school districts is the amount of time it takes to train bus drivers.  

The governor’s plan includes hiring up to seven temporary trainers, one for each NCDOT region, to accelerate the training process, as well as retention bonuses of up to $3,000 to current school bus driver training employees.  

Additionally, funds will be used to purchase two dedicated training buses.  

According to a USA Today analysis, all 50 states have seen at least “one instance of a major school bus driver shortage” so far this year.  

In North Carolina, the state’s largest district of Wake County started the year off with a driver shortage resulting in at least 222 students arriving at school more than half an hour after the first bell.  

Wake County schools estimated around 1,446 students would be one to 10 minutes late and another 1,489 students would arrive between 11 and 30 minutes late.  

While all students needing transportation have been assigned a route, their driver may be covering more than one route, delaying pick-up and drop-off times. Additionally, the district cited a 10% absentee rate with the impact on approximately 6,000 riders who would have late or no service. 

About A.P. Dillon 1070 Articles
A.P. Dillon is a North State Journal reporter located near Raleigh, North Carolina. Find her on Twitter: @APDillon_