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Pinellas School District still working to fill bus driver shortage, holding job fairs to hire new drivers

School Bus Driver Shortage
Posted at 6:24 AM, Jul 21, 2022

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. — The Pinellas County School District is still fighting a bus driver shortage.

“We hope to be in a really good place once we open school,” said Kevin Hendrick, Superintendent for Pinellas County Schools.

The goal is to have enough school bus drivers. However, that’s been a battle for all school districts across Tampa Bay.

“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, Compound Bus Manager for Pinellas County.

The Pinellas County School district has been hiring drivers all summer.

“We have folks in class now, and there’s opportunities to create more efficiency,” said Hendrick.

Leaders are training them to make sure the people they have recently hired will be ready to drive a bus in time for the school year.

“We can put you behind the wheel of a school bus, and in a short period of time, you’ll feel like you’re driving your car,” said Kevin Cobb, CDL examiner, trainer, and bus driver.

But the district is still short.

A school official told ABC Action News that the number fluctuates, but the district needs 40-50 bus drivers and about 80-100 bus assistants.

That’s why they’re putting on multiple job fairs to recruit more people to fill those spots.

  • Upcoming job fairs:
    • July 21, 8 a.m.-11 a.m.

The district is offering incentives like a $1,000 signing bonus. It will be paid in two parts, $500 after completing and passing the commercial driver’s license class and $500 after completing the first school year.

Drivers earn $15.69 per hour, and bus assistants earn $11.78 per hour.

Despite the current shortage, Hendrick said it’s not as bad as it’s been in the past.

“It’s a combination of becoming more efficient with our routes and also some of the incentives we’ve put into play. As well as retention, that’s a big part. Keeping our employees here and making sure they’re well compensated,” said Hendrick.

For anyone interested in speaking with a recruiter, call 727-638-3528 or 727-587-7100 ext. #4620 or send an email to