School bus drivers needed in Marion County, board members discuss solutions

More than a dozen positions available

MARION COUNTY, Fla. – The Marion County School Board and Transportation Services officials met on Thursday to discuss long-term solutions for the shortage of bus drivers.

More than a dozen positions are still available.

“We have 16 bus drivers and we have 16 bus aids that we had already initiated. They applied, we interviewed, and we lost them along the way for several reasons,” said Rebecca Rora, director of Transportation Services.

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Rora explained some of those reasons is because some applicants lost interest along the application process and others were hired for another position through the district.

She said Transportation Services is working with an outside company to find drivers who can hit the ground running since several students are still dealing with delays.

Rora said they have a couple of teachers driving buses after school.

“Currently we have five school bus drivers that are ready to start immediately. They have gone through all of the compliance requirements that we have,” said Ivory Lucky, CEO of School District Services.

Earlier this month, the district reported a growing problem of fights on school buses, adding that a bus driver was injured in one of those incidents.

“Administrators throughout the district are riding the buses so they can monitor the students’ behavior, so they can assist the driver and give them tips on student management,” Rora said.

Rora also spoke about starting the “Bus Buddy Program” where qualified volunteers can ride and bring comfort to elementary students who never been on a school bus.

The program was put on hold due to the pandemic.

About the Author:

Ezzy Castro is a multimedia journalist on News 6's morning team who has a passion for telling the stories of the people in the Central Florida community. Ezzy worked at WFOR CBS4 in South Florida and KBMT in Beaumont, Texas, where she covered Hurricane Harvey in 2017. Being from Miami, Ezzy loves Cuban coffee and croquetas!