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Pinellas County Schools offers incentives to help hire bus drivers

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Posted at 5:20 PM, Jun 13, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-14 08:43:11-04

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla.  — The need for bus drivers is still there in school districts across the Tampa Bay area. Pinellas County Schools is hiring bus drivers for the upcoming school year, even offering incentives as a perk.

The school bus driver is often the first person kids meet to start the school day and the last person to send them home safely.

“We do make a difference in a child’s life,” said Kevin Cobb, a CDL examiner and trainer.

Cobb also drives a school bus when needed with Pinellas County Schools. The district is now looking to get more people in the driver’s seat.

Pinellas County Schools said they’re short bus drivers, right now looking to hire 50 drivers for the start of the school year.

“It started with COVID, and there were a lot of incentives for people to be able to stay at home for a while,” said Mary Sue Cross, a compound manager for Pinellas County Schools.

Cross explained factors that feed into it all.

“Usually the end of the school year and Christmas break is when retirements hit, and we usually start off the year needing about 50 drivers,” said Cross.

The district is also offering incentives, like a sign-on bonus where people will get $500 upon completion/passing CDL requirements and $500 upon completion of the first school year.

“We have a really high number of retirees that want to do something and like to be with students,” said Cross.

Cross explained they’re looking for people who love children and are eager to go to work and eager to come to class, while Cobb shared some of the flexibility of the job too.

“We run a split shift, so we start early in the morning, and we drive for approximately three to four hours in the morning,” said Cobb. “We take a short period off, where you can go home and do your chores and do your running around and errands, and then you can come back and work the afternoon for approximately three to four hours depending on the route, and that finishes up your day.”

Drivers also don’t want people to be intimidated by the size of the bus either but said to give it a chance to jump-start a new job.

“We all remember when we were 15 years old and getting behind the wheel of a car for the first time and how intimidating that was, and once you’ve mastered that and got five years of experience, we can put you behind the wheel of a school bus, and then in just a short period of time, you’ll feel like you’re driving your car," said Cobb.

The school district has several transportation job fairs coming up throughout the month of June.

Walter Pownall Service Center 
11111 S. Belcher Rd., Largo 33773

  • June 14, 2022 - 8:00  AM -  11:00 AM
  • June 23, 2022 - 2:00 PM -  5:00 PM
  • June 30, 2022 - 2:00 PM -  5:00 PM

49th Street Bus Compound635 49th St. South, St. Petersburg, 33711

  • June 16, 2022 - 1:00 PM - 4:00 PM
  • June 21, 2022 - 8:00 AM - 11:00 AM
  • June 25, 2022 - 9:00 AM - 1:00 PM
  • June 28, 2022 - 10:00 AM - 2:00 PM

Staff will be on hand to help interested applicants complete applications. To learn more about becoming a bus driver or bus assistant, visit www.pcsb.org/busdrivers.