Polk Schools Seeking Bus Drivers to Prevent Shortage Next School Year
No Longer Requiring High School Diploma
Last updated 5/29/2019 at 8:18am
The Polk County Public Schools district is recruiting bus drivers and attendants for the next school year, hoping to prevent the driver shortage that resulted in bus delays at the start of last year.
The district operates a fleet of 511 buses traveling about 61,000 miles per day, transporting about 50,000 students to 121 schools, making 9,200 bus stops along 2,700 routes, according to the transportation department's website. That travel totals nearly 11 million miles per year.
Three driver recruitment events were held in February. The next bus driver hiring events have been scheduled for 10 a.m. to noon Friday, May 24 at the Auburndale Public Library, 100 W. Bridgers Ave. and 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday, May 28 at the Dundee Community Center.
In material promoting the hiring events, bus driver Narissa Peterson is quoted: "I love working for Polk County Public Schools because I get to be the first face the kids see in the morning and the last one they see in the afternoon. I get to listen to them, guide them and be their friend."
After their training, school bus drivers make $13.40 per hour and have opportunities to earn extra pay. They also receive paid Commercial Driver's License training and after 90 days they are eligible for full benefits, including medical, dental, vision and life insurance and participation in the Florida Retirement System. The school district says drivers also enjoy winter and spring breaks and summer vacation.
Potential drivers need a valid driver's license with at least five years' driving experience, a clean driving record and completion all PCPS hiring requirements. In addition to attending the hiring events, interested persons may call 863-534-7298 or apply online at https://polkschoolsfl.com/careers
To address the driver shortage, the School Board this year increased driver pay and eliminated the requirement of a high school diploma.
Senior Coordinator of Transportation Services George Millar said being a bus driver comes with numerous other benefits as well. He's heard stories of bus drivers being recognized for the difference they make in students' lives.
"Bus drivers are the individuals who get up very early in the morning and ensure our students get to school on time and safely each morning and are returned home in the evening," Millar said. "Because of our drivers and other transportation personnel, our children have the opportunity to obtain a first-class education here in Polk County."