When a bus driver is unable to make it to work, Hernando County School District’s transportation department has substitute bus drivers to step up and run routes, ensuring students make it to class on time.
But when substitute bus drivers are unable to work, as has been the case in recent memory, the transportation department has a serious enough problem on its hands that it is now advertising for school bus operator and attendant positions.
“It’s sporadic,” School Superintendent Bryan Blavatt said. “It just depends on the day, and how many people are out, and it shouldn’t happen anytime, but at times kids are arriving late.”
And then there are all the problems that go along with students arriving 45 minutes late to class.
“It’s been building,” Blavatt said. “We actually have a number of (drivers) out with various illnesses, and the substitute drivers we have seem to be having some problems.”
Blavatt said the district hasn’t been able to get substitute drivers in, either, when full-time drivers are out.
“We just haven’t been able to get them in,” Blavatt said.
It was noticeable enough two years ago when Blavatt recommended a crew of 10 drivers be available to call on when plan A — and plan B — fell through, as it seems they currently are. But there is no plan C, not yet anyway, and the district is hoping to change that for the sake of more reliable public transportation.
“I’m hopeful once we get enough people hired we can get that squad together,” Blavatt said, likening the back-up drivers to a “taxi squad” on a football team. “There’s guys that won’t dress everyday for the game, but can be called in if somebody’s injured or out — same concept.”
And according to school transportation officials, it’s not as complicated or costly as it looks: you don’t even need a certified driver’s license.
The school district takes care of that, and all interested applicants need to cover is a written test approving their CDL at the Department of Motor Vehicles.
Of course, not just anyone can take the wheel. There’s a background check applicants have to go through with human resources at the district office after one completes and submits their application.
Applicants can apply online at hernandoschools.org by clicking on the “employment” link on the left side of the page, then by clicking on “Open Non-Instructional and Professional/Technical Positions.”
Application packets also can be picked up at the school transportation department, filled out, and dropped off at the school board district offices’ human resources department.
Once a background check has been completed, and an applicant cleared, they will be trained by the school district to earn their CDL, which is finalized with a written test taken at Department of Motor Vehicles for a fee paid for by the applicant.