Hiring standards may be lowered for school bus drivers in Alachua County, amid shortage

A high school diploma or GED is required now, but an amendment could change that to an eighth grade education
Published: Feb. 7, 2023 at 6:25 PM EST
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - It’s a possible solution to the months long problem of not having enough school bus drivers in Alachua County.

RELATED STORY: Bus tracker shows hundreds of Alachua County School buses were late or no-shows this month

School board members are pushing to lower the requirements for drivers, in hopes of hiring more people.

Right now, the district requires bus drivers and ESE bus attendants to have a high school diploma or GED, but if this amendment goes through, drivers would only need an eighth grade education.

“I think it’s okay, you know as long they got a CDL license and they’re able to drive, got a good driving record,” said Barbara Ray-Santiago, resident.

One parent, whose son goes to Oak View Middle School, said the bus driver shortage impacts his life on a weekly basis.

“Whatever they need to do, they need to do it because you can only leave work so many times,” said Damon Mccurry.

He said he’s had to leave work countless times to take his son to school, because his son’s bus doesn’t show up.

“During the week it might happen twice and then next week it might happen three times,” said Mccurry. “So they know, your job kind of knows what’s going on. You gotta pay bills and that’s hours coming off your check.”

When TV 20 last reported on the bus driver shortage in late November, the district had around 106 drivers.

RELATED STORY: Alachua County School District recruiters hire 14 people amid staffing shortages

A spokesperson for the district said now they have 110 available drivers, still leaving the fleet 41 drivers short.

“I think it’s good to make any attempt to fix it,” said Mccurry.

Public hearing is scheduled for 6:30 pm at tonight’s school board meeting.

The changes won’t go into effect until the school board takes an official vote, at a later meeting.

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