Bonus program confirms it: Good bus drivers are hard to find
It's common knowledge in Hillsborough County and pretty much everywhere: It's hard to hire good bus drives, and enough of them.
Hillsborough, in particular, is a sprawling district with an ambitious magnet program that has a lot of kids on buses.
The starting pay? Less than $11 an hour for some very stressful work.
Seeking to fill some 150 vacancies, the district in December embarked on a bonus program for school employees who successfully recruit new drivers.
So far the results are less than spectacular.
According to a memo from transportation manager John Franklin, "a large pool of applicants will only result in a few successful hires. In order to become a bus driver, applicants face stringent driving history record checks, criminal history background checks and must pass the CDL (commercial driver's license) paper and written exams."
Now for the numbers:
Since December, 61 drivers have been hired. Six have been re-hired. Fifty-six have resigned, retired or died while on leaves of absence. Another 40 have gone out on workers comp. Twelve have been hired since December, but then left the job.
As for the referral program:
Twenty-four bus drivers referred between 45 and 50 potential candidates. But none were hired.
Of that group, 28 could not meet the district standards. It is not clear why the rest did not work out.