FOX35 Orlando | By Connor Hansen | Updated April 14, 2022
OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. – The Osceola County School District is warning families to plan ahead for possible school bus delays Friday.
The district, already short dozens of drivers, worries many of them could call out ahead of the holiday weekend.
The shortage of drivers already caused problems this week after an unexpected number of them called on Tuesday morning.
“In some cases on Tuesday morning, it ran about 30 to 40 minutes I think the students were late,” said Arby Creach, the district’s transportation director.
Creach says they have 242 runs to make each day, but they only have 212 drivers.
Around 27,000 students rely on rides, that’s up about 4,000 from the last school year.
“Generally, in other times, we can cover that fairly easily with substitute drivers and creative routing, but the problem is right now we’re down more than 30 bus drivers,” Creach said. “In other words, there are 30 routes out there that don’t have a daily assigned driver to them.”
Osceola has been working to recruit more drivers, holding monthly job fairs, offering bonuses and putting bus attendants with drivers to watch the students.
But like other districts, hiring has been slower than they hoped.
“Our recruiting efforts have been lean so to speak,” Creach said. “We have a hiring fair almost every month, sometimes twice a month and unfortunately many people come in, but they realize that this isn’t for them, or they just don’t qualify for the very strict requirements.”
Right now, starting pay for bus drivers in Osceola is $13.85 an hour, but the district hopes that will be up to $15 starting in July.