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Wanted: School Bus Drivers

school bus

As the beginning of the new school year approaches, the Escambia County District is dealing with a shortage of school bus drivers. On Wednesday, the school district released a press release announcing adjustments to the school start and end times with the reason being the driver shortage.

The largest adjustment times are 35 minutes for some schools and as little as 15 minutes or less for others, the release said. Routes may also be increased in heavily populated areas.

The Escambia County School District continues to advertise for bus drivers. They also provide free training for a CDL bus driver's license. Starting pay is $12.46 an hour and benefits include paid holidays, access to the Florida Retirement System, health and dental packages, access to a gym, and a monthly wellness bonus. Anyone interested can visit the school district’s transportation website for more info.

In Santa Rosa County, the need is so great that the school district is offering a $1,000 sign-on bonus. Those interested can apply online at sticareers.com. Okaloosa County School District is currently offering a $500 incentive for new drivers as they face a shortage of approximately 20-25 drivers, said Steve Horton, assistant superintendent.

Santa Rosa School District Spokeswoman Brandi Bates said there are no plans to alter start times because of a lack of drivers. The school district currently has 21 vacancies with three in Pace; 11 in Milton and seven in the Navarre/Gulf Breeze area.

Horton said OCSD is not immune to the current worker shortage. They may call on other workers in the district to help out.

"We have used other employees including teachers who are trained and have their CDL to drive routes at their schools and have plans to do that again this year — that will help," he added.

The district is also considering higher rates for drivers who don't want or need benefits such as health insurance.

"We see a large population who are retired or separated from military service who may not need benefits," he said.

To apply for a driver position in Okaloosa County, visit okaloosaschools.com.