POLK COUNTY, Fla. — A school district here is advising parents of school transportation delays for the next two weeks as the school year begins, due to a bus driver shortage.
Polk County Public Schools still needs to fill 62 driver positions, ABC Action News reports. The district had posted on its Facebook page on Wednesday that although it is recruiting and training drivers, it expected delays during the first few weeks of school, and encouraged parents to transport their children to and from school if possible. (The first day of school was Monday.)
In a press conference on Monday morning, district officials said that the driver shortage caused 85 buses and 110 routes to run late that morning, according to ABC Action News. On Monday afternoon, at least 40 buses were running behind schedule, the news source reports.
To keep parents updated, the school district is providing information on school bus delays of more than 30 minutes on its website, and is making updates as needed. The district has also provided on its website a phone number for anyone interested in applying to become a school bus driver, and a link on its Facebook page to information on applying to become a school bus driver or attendant.
Jacqueline Byrd, the superintendent of the district, told ABC Action News that 17 applicants started training for driver positions on Monday, and that the transportation department will continue to train applicants over the weekend if necessary.
This driver shortage is the most significant that the district has seen during the back-to-school period, officials told the news source.