‘Patience is the word:’ Osceola bus drivers pick up students on first day of school despite shortage

District still needs to hire 30 more drivers

OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. – It was a smooth start on the first day of school at the school bus depot in Osceola County.

Despite having nearly a dozen bus drivers call out sick, transportation official said students made it to class without a bump in the road on Wednesday.

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“The only thing I heard on the radio so far we had one high school student that got off the wrong high school and that we were taking him back to the correct high school so if that’s all we have to deal with today, we are going to be in really good shape,” said Arby Creach, director of transportation services.

The district is still in need of hiring about 30 more bus drivers.

On Wednesday, Superintendent Dr. Debra Pace was there to greet bus drivers as they drove off to pick up students.

“We are so grateful to see the smiles on our bus drivers this morning. They are the first person our children see in the morning as it relates to school and the last person in the afternoon,” Pace said.

In Orange County, leaders there said they had no big issues Wednesday morning but moving forward, drivers picking up high school students will have to do double routes in the morning.

“There will be two runs in the morning for high school students, which means some students might have an earlier pickup than others,” Bill Wen with Orange County Public Schools Transportation Services said.

And the shortage is not just bus drivers. Hundreds of teacher positions also need to be filled. Pace told News 6 on Wednesday the district is in need of 157 teachers.

“To address the staffing shortages, I’m not sure what the one answer is. I think it’s going to take a multitude of factors. You know obviously salary is a factor, working conditions are a factor, and the more we can do as a community to show our educators how much we value and appreciate them, I think also makes a difference,” Pace said.

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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!