Ongoing school bus driver shortage sparks route cancellations

A roundup of Florida education news from around the state
The Pasco County school district continues to advertise for more bus drivers, as the School Board considers plans to ensure students get to school on time.
The Pasco County school district continues to advertise for more bus drivers, as the School Board considers plans to ensure students get to school on time. [ JEFFREY S. SOLOCHEK | Times ]
Published Apr. 1, 2022|Updated Apr. 2, 2022

The big story: Can you say bus driver shortage?

Sure, you’ve heard about it all year long. Districts across Florida have tried all sorts of things to fill vacancies, such as boosting pay and cajoling parents to pitch in, with limited effect.

One of the more extensive approaches emerged in Pasco County, where the School Board agreed to change all school start times so they could have fewer drivers cover all the routes. Turns out, that idea didn’t work so well either.

Pasco still has plenty of late buses, plus more than 50 driver vacancies. So it’s got a new plan ready to go for the fall — the elimination of all courtesy rides. Read about it here.

It’s not just driver shortages that are affecting schools. The Manatee County district is seeking to fill about 100 cafeteria staff jobs, WTVT reports. And Palm Beach County school district police officers are asking for relief as their ranks are depleted, WPBF reports.

Hot topics

Gender lessons: Days after Gov. Ron DeSantis signed HB 1557 on gender lessons into law, two LGBTQ advocacy groups filed suit to stop it from taking effect. They contend the measure violates the First Amendment and the due process and equal protection clauses of the U.S. Constitution, the News Service of Florida reports. DeSantis said he believed the legal challenge has no merit, Florida Phoenix reports. More from the USA Today Florida Network. • Florida Republican leaders continue to defend the measure against attacks from the White House, WFLA reports. • The Martin County school district responded to DeSantis’ criticism of its LGBTQ student support guide, TC Palm reports. • Still have questions about the bill? PolitiFact took a look at some of the claims being made about it.

Race lessons: Some legal experts say Florida’s HB 7 on race lessons and diversity training could face legal challenge, too, as unconstitutional, The 74 reports. DeSantis has not yet received that bill from the Legislature.

Teacher pay: Pinellas County teachers ratified their tentative contract agreement, which took eight months to fashion. The vote in support was less than overwhelming.

Taxes: Pasco County school district and county government leaders began talks to seek renewal of the local “Penny for Pasco” sales tax, which supports school construction projects. They are looking at the 2022 ballot.

Student discipline: A Duval County charter school had a six-year-old Baker Acted and involuntarily committed, and the child’s parents are threatening a lawsuit, WTLV reports.

School news

The Florida Legislature established a $200 million reading initiative last year. More than 100,000 children have signed up to receive free books through the program, the Orlando Sentinel reports.

The state’s new financial literacy graduation requirement takes effect next year. High school leaders are working on how to fit the course into their schedules, WFSU reports.

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A Broward County high school principal has been reassigned away from students. She is accused of shoving and yelling at a student during a recent protest, WPLG reports.

The number of homeless students in Polk County schools is on the rise. District officials said homelessness is affecting a new segment of society, WFLA reports.

From the court docket ... A former Brevard County high school teacher has been placed on probation after pleading guilty to charges stemming from his participation in the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol, Florida Today reports. The teacher resigned his job after being arrested over the summer.

In higher education

Florida surgeon general Joseph Ladapo got quick action on his University of Florida job application. A review committee found the school violated its hiring procedures to bring him on faculty.

Four Florida Memorial University tenured professors were told they’re being laid off. They claim discrimination, while the school says the decisions are based on finances, the Miami Herald reports.

State Sen. Shevrin Jones has been outspoken on Florida education issues. The Biden White House has appointed him to an advisory board on historically Black colleges and universities, Florida Politics reports.

Don’t miss a story. Here’s a link to yesterday’s roundup.

Before you go ... Has your school ever tried photo day on St. Patrick’s Day?

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