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Pasco County Schools' bus driver shortage leads to challenging days

Posted at 5:28 PM, Oct 19, 2021

PASCO COUNTY, Fla. — Due to Pasco School Schools being short of almost 90 bus drivers, delays are impossible to avoid.

And that’s tough for Jack Miller to deal with.

“We kinda pride ourselves on getting everybody there. Plus they get breakfast when they get to school, so when we get there late, now it’s rush, rush, rush. And sometimes they are going into classrooms that are already in session. So that’s disrupting everybody," said Miller.

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The school district always seems to be looking for drivers, but area supervisor Nery Morales says she’s never seen a shortage like this.

“It’s a challenge, and it has been a challenge. It seems like this year more than any other time. I’ve been here 16 years and we’ve never had it this bad," said Morales.

There are many possible reasons why districts around the country are short so many drivers. Some older bus drivers are stepping away from the job because of COVID concerns. Also, pay may not be worth the stress when compared to unemployment benefits.

The district offers 15 days of paid training and full-time drivers will make $13.40 an hour. Drivers get health care benefits and the opportunity to make more money with extracurricular trips.

“If you like children, this is the perfect job for you," said Tory Walter.

Walter’s been driving a Pasco County school bus for 15 years.

“You know money is not everything, but it does have many rewards. A lot of people that I work with, I love who I work with. I love my job," she said.

And those who do the job say there’s no reason to be intimated by the idea of driving something so big.

“When you drive you have so many mirrors that they are so easy to see when you are making turns and backing up. So it’s easier than your actual car," said Morales.

Until the district can hire more drivers, those on the job are asked to do more including longer shifts and transporting more passengers.

Everyone is hoping for some relief, but it could be a long time before it comes.

If you would like to apply, click here.