School bus drivers needed for Hillsborough County School District

Shortage is not currently affecting service

TAMPA - "Good morning," said Hilda James with a smile as her students climb aboard.  

James is behind the wheel of school bus number 4474 for Hillsborough District Schools.

"It's a huge responsibility.  Because you have so many people's children, children's lives in your hand," James said.  

For sixteen years, the mother of seven has drove elementary, middle and high school aged children to and from school. And she knows there's one thing you have to be.

"Courageous, you have to be courageous on this job, oh my goodness," she laughed.

Although the district has nearly one thousand school bus drivers throughout the county, they're in need of more.

"Help. H-E-L-P, help. We need help," said James.

The Hillsborough County School District is currently looking to fill more than one hundred open positions for bus drivers.

"I would characterize the current shortage of bus drivers in Hillsborough county as significant," explained John Franklin, General Manager of Transportation for the district.

The district says driver vacancies are a national trend, but Hillsborough has the highest vacancy rate in the bay area.  

New incentives are now on the table to help recruit new drivers, and keep the ones it has.  A current driver can get a $100 finders fee for referring a new driver that stays for a year; $500 if they remain for five.

Something else that's new, driver's can now park their buses at home overnight if certain conditions are met.

"We are looking for qualified bus drivers who have a commitment to work with kids, commitment to safe driving and a commitment to serving students," said Franklin.  

Drivers start off making about $10.50 per hour; with some now earning more than $16 an hour.

"Just try it, you might like it," suggested James

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