PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — It’s one of the most important jobs in the school system — getting your kids to school safely. But one county, in particular, is facing a big problem. They don’t have enough bus drivers.
“It is one of those jobs that you have to be physically, mentally and emotionally ready to take,” Katherine Harriel said.
She has been taking kids to and from Pinellas County schools for 14 years and tells us it’s a hard, but rewarding job.
Right now, one of the most important roles in the school system is in dire need.
“We are at least 60 routes short so we are wanting to hire 100 drivers,” said Stephanie Carrier with the Pinellas County School System.
Several job fairs are being held to get those spots filled, including one Wednesday at the Walter Pownall Service Center in Largo.
“I think one of the main issues is money. If you are going to put a professional driver on the road you should pay them what they are worth,” said driver Ralph Ercolino.
According to the school board, bus drivers get paid $13.46 an hour with paid holidays and sick days. Veteran drivers we spoke with have a couple of other ideas that might help draw people to the job.
“I think getting paid unemployment during the summertime would help people. I think if they brought back people’s sick days at the beginning of summer that would help people,” said Charles Oller who has been driving Pinellas County school buses for 12 years.
There are other incentives like benefits and bonuses.
The drivers tell us the job, albeit at times is challenging, it is so very rewarding.
“They share their accomplishments with you, they share their frustrations with you. You really get to know them a little bit,” said Tom Cook.
Wednesday’s job fair runs from 5 p.m. until 8 p.m. at 11111 South Belcher Road in Largo.
Another job fair will be held Thursday from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at St. Petersburg College Seminole Campus on 113th Street in Seminole.
You can find more information on hiring guidelines by visiting the school district’s website. Just look for the employment tab and click on “interested in becoming a bus driver” then apply online.
You can also visit the transportation web page.