ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – Orange County public schools is holding another job fair to hire school bus drivers after there was low turnout during a hiring event last week.
Karen Ausberry, senior administrator for business services, oversaw the job fair on Friday. She said 19 applicants showed up for the hiring event.
The district is looking to hire 100 bus drivers.
“It’s a little bit disheartening, but we don’t give up,” Ausberry said.
Parents, including William Harper, said the bus driver shortage is causing school buses to be consistently late or not show up at all.
Harper said he has had enough.
“The bus is scheduled about 8:40, 8:45 and this bus doesn’t get here until well after 10 o’clock, sometimes 11 and somedays the bus don’t even pick him up,” Harper said.
Harper is the father of an Orange County middle school student. He said this now affecting his son’s academic performance.
“He’s doing great in all the rest of his classes, but it’s showing and it’s wearing on his first period class which is an academic class and he’s not doing well in that all,” Harper said.
District officials said they were short drivers before the school year started. They said there are 34 routes that don’t have an assigned driver.
“We have had some concerns regarding our busing this year. At the beginning of the year, we experienced staffing issues,” OCPS spokesperson Scott Howat said.
The shortage prompted the district to host special job fairs to recruit bus drivers. The district is also offering a sign on bonus up to $3,500.
Lashun Jackson attended the job fair on Friday. She hopes to be behind the wheel of a school bus soon.
“I just figured that I’m retired, and I could make a difference and help them out,” Jackson said.
While hiring is the long-term solution, the district said it takes up to five weeks for new drivers to go through training. In the meantime, district officials said staff is picking up routes with higher needs, some routes are being combined, and they’re asking parents to drive their children to school or carpool, if possible.
The next job fair is on Monday, Sept. 13, at Horizon High School from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Another hiring event is scheduled for Sept. 20 at the Eric Olson Compound.