After losing dozens of bus drivers, Lee County schools are in desperate need to fill 69 bus driver positions in three weeks. If they don’t, Southwest Florida’s largest county will be short to start the school year.
Roger Lloyd is the Executive Director of Transportation. Lloyd didn’t hold a news conference, he made a public plea for help.
“The reality is, we’re going to be late logistically,” Lloyd said. “We do not have the bus drivers to get those kids to and from school on time.”
Lee County schools admit they don’t have enough drivers to get kids to and from school on time. The district said they need at least 69 more bus drivers as of Wednesday. Although, it is likely they need way more than that.
“Historically, we are expecting to lose about 25 or 30 more drivers by the start of school,” Lloyd said. Adding that to the current amount of drivers need, the district could need close to 100 bus drivers.
Not good for the students and not good for Lee County schools. WINK News asked Lloyd if the news conference was an effort to display transparency and to keep parents informed? “Absolutely,” Lloyd responded. “We’re trying to be as transparent as possible.”
Lloyd is hopeful that transparency can transition to more people who will be willing to become school bus drivers.
Also, a thousand-dollar bonus if you’re trained and ready to go by August 10th plus benefits. As an added bonus, “We as drivers,” Lloyd said. “We are the first people to see the kids and the last people to drop them off. That’s a big responsibility and one that my drivers truly appreciate.”
Annie Williams, a Lee County school bus driver, has the experience to know the roads very well. “Out of the south compound, we’re gonna make a right at the stop sign, go across the railroad, making a left on Plantation, and then a left on Daniels,” Williams said. “Another left on South Cleveland. And then another left back on Six Mile.” Lee County schools need close to 100 more bus drivers like Williams to have enough bus drivers for every route this school year.
For Williams, it’s not about money, benefits, or the signing bonus. Simply, it’s about the kids. “I’m the first person they see in the morning besides the parent and the last person as they see before they see their parents so I take good pride in doing that.”
But, if anyone else wants to do it for the money, Lee County is ready to pay. The aforementioned thousand-dollar bonus when you complete your training. But, you’d be getting paid during the training, and have benefits too.
Lloyd said one reason it’s hard to hire bus drivers is that our population is expanding and drivers are leaving the industry. Regardless of the district having enough drivers by then, schools will start and students will need to be picked up somehow.
Click here to apply if you’re interested in becoming a Lee County bus driver. Someone will reach out to you to schedule an interview shortly after.