Gov. Roy Cooper to release federal dollars to help speed bus driver training

By: - August 29, 2023 4:00 pm
School buses

Legislation introduced in the North Carolina General Assembly would increase the pay of school bus drivers and other school personnel. Photo:

Gov. Roy Cooper is releasing $1 million in federal funds to the N.C. Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to help train more bus drivers.

The release of the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) funds comes as more than a million students who attend schools on a traditional school calendar return to classes this week amid a severe bus driver shortage.

Gov. Roy Cooper
Gov. Roy Cooper (File Photo)

The money will be used to hire up to seven temporary trainers, one for each NCDOT region, and to accelerate the training process. It will also help to employ former school bus driver trainers and to expedite training of new bus drivers.

In addition, the state will provide retention bonuses of up to $3,000 to current school bus driver training employees.

Cooper announced the spending plan during a visit to Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools where he spoke with bus drivers and educators.

The governor urged lawmakers to pass a budget that fully funds public schools.

“North Carolina desperately needs more school bus drivers and the way to get them is to pay them more and train them faster,” Cooper said in a statement. “If legislative Republicans would do their jobs and pass a strong public education budget now, we could better attack this challenge. Until then these funds are important to help get our children to and from school reliably and safely.”

Cooper proposed spending nearly $1 million in recurring funding in his 2023-25 budget to hire 10 additional school bus driver trainers within the DMV. The governor also proposed a 9.5% salary increase over two years for bus drivers and an 8% increase for school bus driver trainers.

Cooper’s budget also includes a $1,500 retention bonus for school bus drivers and school bus driver trainers making less than $75,000 and a $1,000 bonus if they make more than $75,000.

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Greg Childress
Greg Childress

Education Reporter Greg Childress covers all aspects of public education in North Carolina, including debates over school funding, curricula, privatization, and teacher pay and licensing.