Big turn out at school transportation job fair

Posted at 7:59 PM, Apr 15, 2016

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla-- Lines were out the door filled with people applying to be a school bus drivers in Palm Beach County. Friday the District held a transportation job fair.

For many parents, the turnout was a reassuring sight after this year they started with not enough school bus drivers.

Now the district says it’s taking action to make sure those problems don't happen next school year.

For Carrie Longest and her son, this school year got off to a bumpy start.

“It was a lot of difficulties in just getting him to school on a daily basis,” said Longest.

While she says things have improved a lot, Carrie says it took a while before the issues with her son's bus route were fixed.

"For a whole entire month, we had issues with them picking up on time, not having the right drivers, not knowing where they were going,” said Longest.

It’s no secret that the start of the school year was a headache for a lot of parents.

“We were losing drivers as fast as we could hire them,” said Pete DiDonato, the director of Transportation for the school district.

The district told us nearly 50 drivers just didn’t show up on the first day of school. It was a shortage the district says contributed to the nearly 40 percent of buses being late on the first day of school.

That’s the reason for highly publicized job fair Friday to hire bus drivers. The district is hiring at full speed ahead .

They're not just looking for new drivers. They're trying to keep them, too, with a newly negotiated starting salary of $14 an hour. That’s about $2 more per hour than it used to be.

“People are coming from other counties wanting to work for us now that we’re competitive with other jobs and industries,” said DiDonato.

It's a two-pronged proactive approach that has parents like Longest hopeful for a smoother ride next school year.

“To me, it tells me that the superintendent is placing a lot of value on people who will be taking care of children,” said Longest.

DiDonato says they already have enough drivers for all the routes and right now they are trying to hire back up drivers.