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Martin County School District needs more bus drivers

School driver shortage causes dozens of delays; parents asked to drive students
Posted at 11:08 AM, Oct 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-15 19:16:13-04

STUART, Fla. — The Martin County School District said a staffing shortage in bus drivers and substitute drivers lead to a school bus scramble Friday morning.

Families at several dozen bus stops around the district got a call or a text from the district saying they might need to find another way for their child to get to school.

One text sent to parents said in part:

"Parents — due to staffing challenges, bus 1904 will not pick up students this morning. Please consider transporting your child to school if this is an option for you. The District is working to see if this route is able to be picked up by another driver later in the morning. If this becomes a possibility, an update will be shared with you."

Martin County School District spokeswoman Jennifer DeShazo said two buses and three routes were affected Friday morning, and two routes were affected Friday afternoon. Each route, she said, has an average of 8 to 10 stops.

Students in the afternoon, DeShazo said, faced getting home an hour late.

Now, the district is pleading for people to consider applying to drive. The district could not say why Friday's staffing was critically low.

Gregory Davis is a Jensen Beach parent who got the message.

He first sent his first- and fourth-grade students to their bus stop with walkie-talkies. When they told Davis the bus was late, he decided to drive them himself.

"I don't mind taking my kids to school, but there are parents who don't have that luxury of being able to take their kids to school," Davis said. "They have to wonder, are their kids going to get to school that day? And what's going to happen to the kids? Do they go back home or have to find another ride or what?"

"We were hopefully able to get parents the notice in time so they could make alternate arrangements to get their child to school," DeShazo said.

She said a labor shortage across different fields is also impacting school transportation, not just in Martin County, but around the state and nation.

All year, DeShazo said, they've been creative in filling gaps. Friday morning, they had no choice but to send buses assigned to different routes to cover routes that didn't have a driver, knowing that could cause major delays.

In the morning, DeShazo said, the later bus only had to pick up four children who were still waiting and didn't have another ride.

"Today there weren't enough substitutes and there weren't enough staff members that could cover those particular routes, so we had to get creative and send out messaging," she said. "So, they were covered. They were just covered late for those particular routes."

If you want to consider driving for the district, Martin County shared the following job details:

Martin County School District now hiring bus operators!