No major Palm Beach County school bus issues, despite driver shortage

Published: Aug. 10, 2022 at 4:20 PM EDT
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For many students and parents, a lot of their first day of school worries often involve transportation.

The School District of Palm Beach County said there have been no major problems on Wednesday, adding that all school bus routes are covered.

However, finding school bus drivers for the tenth-largest school district in the country is still a problem. The district currently needs about 80 drivers.

Officials with the union for local school bus drivers said it all comes down to money.

"For the tenth-largest school district in the country, Florida ranks 45th out of 50 per student allocation," said Alphonso Mayfield with the SEIU Florida public services union. "So where does Palm Beach County fit into that equation? So when you look at the numbers and how this school district has done the best that they could, and our drivers have gone to bat time and time again to triage the situation, it's really a transit system and bus drivers who have been starved."

Mayfield added that hiring bus drivers is one aspect of a bigger process.

"Hiring is a lagging indicator, right? In part because you don't just hire somebody and they come off the street and they start to drive. That's the beat of the system, how we keep the kids safe, right? They have to go through a training process, they have to go through CDL training, they have to go through a vet, and they have to get some on-the-road training. There are some checks and balances," Mayfield said.

Mayfield said it can take months to years to have a bus driver ready to hit the streets and drive a route.

To alleviate any school bus delays, the School District of Palm Beach County has reduced bus routes by more than 100 and also tapped mechanics, office staff members, and private providers with the proper license to operate school buses as needed.

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