KISSIMMEE, Fla. – Osceola County and other Central Florida districts have been struggling to hire school bus drivers, even before classes started in August, prompting leaders to come up with new ideas to get students to and from school.
Transportation workers said about 23,000 Osceola County students take the bus daily, and the department is looking for at least 40 new qualified drivers.
In the meantime, the Osceola County school district is considering a partnership with Lynx to help transport high school students to and from school.
“The bus driver shortage has been just a tremendous challenge for our school district and most school districts across the country,” Osceola School District Superintendent Dr. Debra Pace said. “We are still in preliminary discussions, so we’re certainly not ready to launch this project and there will definitely need to be communication for parents and, like I said, training for the students on how to ride the bus safely.”
The district said it will compare student address information to routes and times of Lynx buses to see if there’s a fit. If so, students who are eligible would potentially be given free passes to ride.
School board members are scheduled to meet Tuesday afternoon to discuss the possible proposal.
Transportation services also plan to hold bi-monthly job fairs at the bus compound in an effort to hire more school bus drivers. Pace said the district is scheduled to hold another job fair on October 29.
Other school districts, including Marion, Volusia, Seminole and Lake counties, are also in need of bus drivers.
Marion County is seeking 24 drivers, as of Tuesday, and has even created temporary positions offering higher pay and potentially soon, a perfect attendance bonus, according to the county’s public relations director, Kevin Christian.
As of Tuesday, Volusia and Seminole counties are seeking 30 bus drivers and Lake County is seeking 27 drivers.