On any given day, from one end of the state to the other, one in five school bus drivers has quit or didn’t show up for work. Low pay, poor working conditions and illness are the main reasons, says School Boards Association executive director Wayne Blanton.
Wayne says, "It’s a huge problem. I don’t know a single district that has enough bus drivers right at this moment."
Eight-year-old Brooke Ingoldsby was killed after being dropped off by a substitute bus driver in Pinellas County Friday night as she tried to cross a busy intersection. For most school districts, including tiny Monroe County where there are only 60 full-time drivers, fill-in drivers are a fact of life.
Randy Acevedo, Monroe County Superintendent, says, "On a daily basis there are a dozen that are absent."
In the state Capitol schools don’t hire substitute drivers. A staff of line supervisors is trained on every route and they fill in when someone is sick or quits, but money is a problem for most other districts.
Florida School Boards president Tom Greer says the state is funding 70 percent needed to transport kids.
"We fund 30, out of the classroom it’s operating dollars and we need to make up the shortfall."
The shortage of drivers got worse when state lawmakers stepped in and required every district in the state to develop a plan for bussing students who wanted to attend a different school.
The average school bus driver in Florida is paid between $10 and $12 an hour for a part-time job.