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Alachua County Public School leaders are working to mitigate the bus driver shortage

Published: Aug. 24, 2021 at 10:37 PM EDT
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) -Alachua County Public Schools leaders are searching for people to help with the bus driver shortage. In addition to hiring more bus drivers, school district leaders are now tasked with finding a replacement for the Director of Transportation, who is requesting a transfer of positions.

“I know that our bus drivers are overworked and underpaid,” said Dr. Crystal Tessmann, the Service Unit Director for the Alachua County Education Association Union.

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Bus drivers play a crucial role in ensuring school districts, such as Alachua county operate properly.

“It is one of the most important positions that we have. We can’t have school if children can’t get there,” explained Tessmann. “We can’t end school if children can’t leave.”

According to Jackie Johnson, the Public Information Officer for Alachua County Public Schools, it is a challenge to fill these vacant positions, and it is not just here locally.

“It is a hard thing to get bus drivers in school districts across the country,” explained Johnson.

The drivers are tasked with more than just navigating the roadways.

“They have to juggle making sure they get to their stops on time. They make sure that their students are safe on the bus. A lot of drivers have more than one route, so they are doing one school and then another school. They have to clean their buses because of COVID. Make sure masks are worn.”

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Both Johnson and Tessmann said safety is a top priority for bus drivers.

According to Johnson, the preliminary investigation from two crashes involving Alachua County School buses show the bus driver was not at fault.

“It is a tough job to be a bus driver, no doubt about it. That is why it is so important for the rest of us who are sharing the road with buses have to be on the lookout. We have to be always paying attention to the road paying attention to what’s around us. Otherwise, you end up with accidents like this,” explained Johnson.

Multiple people are recovering as a result of those crashes. One of those injured was a bus driver. Johnson explained the crashes and the bus driver shortages are not related.

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