OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. – Zach Downes with the Osceola County School District Transportation Services explained three school bus routes were in jeopardy Tuesday morning after several bus drivers called out sick.
A message warning parents was posted on the transportation services Facebook page at 8:25 a.m.:
“Due to our driver shortage and excessive absenteeism today, we have had issues getting drivers for Osceola High School routes 826 & 831 and Gateway High School route 421. The two Osceola High routes will be covered, but possibly late, and the Gateway High School route will not be covered.”
Transportation services posted again 30 minutes later, adding that the situation had been solved and students were eventually taken to school.
“Just because drivers were calling out, we ran into a situation where we did not think three routes would be covered but thankfully, we were able to double back on buses and get some internal staff, which are our managers and trainers, to help with the situation,” said Zach Downes, a spokesperson for transportation services.
Rose Cross said her grandchildren at Gateway High have been late to school before all because of the bus driver shortage.
“Sometimes I get notifications and I come and get them,” Cross said. “It’s interrupting their education and they supposed to be in school to learn and they can’t learn if you can’t get them their on time.”
It’s not clear how many drivers called out Tuesday morning, but the district is still dealing with a bus driver shortage.
Transportation services said it is in need of 40 additional bus drivers and 140 additional bus attendants to help out with routes. A spokesperson said drivers and attendants will be paid a minimum of $15 per hour. That’s an increase from the $13.80 per hour for full-time bus drivers now and the $12.75 per hour for bus attendants.
The district said any student late to class or absent due to the bus driver shortage is excused.
Transportation services will hold another job fair from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. on April 19 at the Simpson Road compound in Osceola County.
Interested applicants can find more information and apply on the school district’s website.