District prepares new bus drivers for upcoming school year in Osceola County

OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. — As local districts kick things into high gear for the upcoming school year, the need for more teachers isn’t the only shortage they are facing.

Central Florida is short of more than 200 school bus drivers.

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Channel 9′s Alexa Lorenzo recently visited the School District of Osceola County, where officials are training as many new drivers as they can.

Last year was a challenge for the district due to staffing shortages that, at times, led to busing delays.

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As a matter of fact, Osceola County closed out this past school year with 35 bus routes lacking drivers.

Now, less than a week out from the start of school, the district has been holding training sessions for new drivers.

The sessions let them review routes and learn new technology.

Jim Hennessey is among the trainees.

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He used to drive school buses in Rhode Island. After moving to Central Florida a few years ago, he started driving for Disney.

But Hennessey said he missed the energy of school children.

“When I’m on the bus, I sing for the kids and stuff. That’s my job ... keep the kids safe, keep the kids happy.”

While it appears the district is making good progress in filling open positions for drivers, officials said they won’t have the final bus staff count until their current workshops wrap up.

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The district just updated its wage for drivers to $16.50 an hour.

Students return to the classroom Aug. 10.

For more information about career opportunities with School District of Osceola County, click here.