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Florida school districts seek ways to attract more bus drivers

A roundup of Florida education news from around the state
The Pinellas County school district is offering signing bonuses for new bus drivers, as it competes with other districts for a limited pool of applicants.
The Pinellas County school district is offering signing bonuses for new bus drivers, as it competes with other districts for a limited pool of applicants. [ SHADD, DIRK | St. Petersburg Times ]
Published Jun. 14

The big story: Try as they might, school districts across Florida cannot seem to attract and retain bus drivers.

Some have offered finder fees to current employees. Some have increased salaries. Some have adopted practices aimed at reducing the need for so many drivers and routes.

Little has had lasting effect. The Pinellas County school district, for instance, started the previous academic year needing at least four dozen additional drivers, and it heads into the summer still looking to fill the same amount of positions.

It’s got a new incentive in place ahead of holding seven job fairs in the coming weeks. Read more here.

Osceola County schools, which need both drivers and attendants, are boosting wages as they enter the summer hiring months, WESH reports.

Nassau County schools also face transportation difficulties, with ridership back to pre-pandemic levels but staffing at about 60 percent of need, Florida Politics reports. The district is exploring ideas such as “rolling blackouts” of bus routes to cope.

Hot topics

Employee pay: The Volusia County school district will boost its minimum wage to $15 per hour three months earlier than scheduled, WKMG reports.

Superintendent turnover: Collier County superintendent Kamela Patton announced she will retire at the end of the coming school year, after 12 years on the job, WINK reports. More from the Naples Daily News.

Community involvement: Charlotte County school leaders are looking for ways to energize their advisory committees, the Charlotte Sun reports.

Social-emotional learning: Groups that provide lessons supporting students’ social and emotional needs find themselves having to explain more clearly what they do, as states including Florida question their existence, Education Week reports.

Other school news

"Home of The Chiefs" written on an entrance of Chamberlain High School, 9401 N Blvd, on Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2021 in Tampa.
"Home of The Chiefs" written on an entrance of Chamberlain High School, 9401 N Blvd, on Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2021 in Tampa. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]

A Hillsborough County high school is preparing to move away from its Native American mascot. Students at Chamberlain High School have requested a change, WFLA reports.

The Polk County school district is considering whether to add four more high school sports options. The aim is to increase girls’ participation, which has been on the decline, Lakeland Now reports.

Seven Leon County schools are getting new principals. The changes are the result of retirements and reassignments, the Tallahassee Democrat reports.

Brevard County schools have new rules for providing free summertime meals. Some parents say they have no reliable way to get their children there, Florida Today reports.

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A Lee County parent blasted the county sheriff for the arrest of his 10-year-old son over a false threat of a school shooting after the Uvalde incident. The father accused the sheriff of seeking political gain, the NY Post reports.

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

Before you go ... Tenacious D does The Who. Enough said.

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