PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. — The Pinellas County School District is hoping to fill numerous open bus driver positions in a job fair Thursday — 40 bus drivers and 60 driver assistants.
The school bus driver shortage is an ongoing issue across the country. Many say the lack of pay and the risk of getting COVID-19 is discouraging drivers.
In Florida, the average school bus driver makes about $13 to $14 dollars an hour — compared to an Amazon delivery driver making at least $16 an hour. Experts say drivers need more incentive.
ABC Action News asked Tampa Bay’s bigger school districts for their latest numbers regarding bus drivers vacancies.
- Pinellas County needs 40 drivers and 60 assistants
- Pasco County needs 76 drivers, 38 relief drivers, and 23 assistants
- Hillsborough County needs more than 100 drivers
- Polk County needs 80 drivers
Polk also just announced a pay raise for drivers from $13.40 to $14.50, at entry-level.
“We couldn’t even get bus drivers in the door at this point they come, they'd laugh at us and then they do applications back out,” said James Hopson, the Vice President of Bus Drivers and Attendants for AFSCME Local 2227.
“It’s been very difficult because we still have all the COVID protocol in place, now we’re having to go back out and do two loads to three loads and they’re not getting done until late at night or you’re not getting done until late in the morning,” he added.
The job fair in Pinellas is at Walter Pownall Service Center in Largo from 3-6:30 p.m. You can also apply online here.
The district website notes they have the highest salary of the larger districts in Tampa Bay — paying $15.19 an hour with benefits.