ORLANDO, Fla. — Orange County Public Schools (OCPS) closed out the 2011-12 school year with a 5.65% vacancy rate for school bus drivers.
Jim Beekman, senior director of the district's transportation department, told SBF that an important key performance indicator for OCPS is on-time arrival rate for school buses delivering students to school, and the staff availability rate has a direct influence on the success of that goal.
To close the gap of the additional 50 drivers needed, the district utilized a team of recruiters — existing drivers — to reach out to all areas of the community. The result was a recruitment fair at the OCPS Pine Hills facility that brought in more than 300 applicants for the open positions.
New drivers were hired, and trainers got to work getting them prepped for the school opening, which was Aug. 20.
On the topic of training, the OCPS transportation department has a state-of-the-art training facility that includes a cutaway bus mock-up complete with lift. It was designed and built by Larry Creech, husband of the district's head school bus trainer, Vicki Creech. The bus was built indoors, allowing for year-round training and observation in a controlled environment.
On July 23, Larry Creech lost his battle with cancer.
"Larry will be sorely missed by the OCPS transportation family," Beekman said. "We all recognize that the special-needs children of our community have benefited immensely by the training tools he built out of the love he had for his bride, Vicki."
Other recent news related to driver training: