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Amid staffing shortage, Leon County school bus drivers share their love for the job

Published: Jan. 5, 2022 at 5:25 PM EST
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - As students head back to school after winter break, the Leon County School District is searching for more bus drivers.

Superintendent Rocky Hanna spoke about the need during Tuesday’s press conference.

“We have exactly the same number of drivers as we we do routes. So if you have one driver that calls in, people are having to fill for that route. If you have 10 of the 150 bus drivers, it becomes problematic,” Hanna said.

Current employees are feeling the pinch.

“There is definitely a shortage,” said Frederick Williams, the project manager in transportation at the Appleyard bus compound.

“We are asking the community, if you know someone that is looking for a job, this is a good place to be. Full benefits,” Williams said. “If you’re a mother, who has kids, she’s home with her kids when the kids are out. So it helps with scheduling, and babysitting, and all those types of things. And it’s just a good job!”

Williams has been with LCS for 21 years, starting as a bus driver while in school.

“The hours were really flexible and it went really well with my school schedule. So I could come do my job, go to school, and then come back and finish the afternoon route,” Williams said. “I enjoyed my elementary kids; they always want to come on and give you hugs, tell you what they did this weekend. So it’s always something new to learn.”

Bus assistant Rosa Mitchell has noticed the shortage as well, but she had a positive message.

“When we’re short staffed, we all pitch in. Like one big happy family,” Mitchell said. “I love everybody because they’re loving and kind. They’re very thoughtful people when you’re going through, because I lost my husband last year, and they were so kind.”

Lawshawn Harrell has been a driver for three years. She took the job to prepare her to drive trucks, but she said she might stick around longer than she expected.

Harrell says she’s watched some of her high school riders become adults.

“We all have grown together and experienced things together.”

She urged others to apply, even if it’s not the exact career path they envisioned.

“I never thought I’d be able to drive anything big like that. I’m in my 40s, and I didn’t get my first driver’s license until I turned 25 years old,” Harrell said. “So, if you put your mind to it, you can do anything.”

Williams says as long as you have a caring heart for children and a focus on safety, you have a home at LCS.

You can apply here.

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