Nassau County schools' bus driver shortage: 1 driver for every 84 students

By: Danielle Avitable , Action News Jax

Updated:

Kids are forced to sit three to a seat because of a bus driver shortage.

The Nassau County School District said growth in the county is contributing to a bus driver shortage.

"They've got to come up with a solution," parent Thomas Mitchell said. 

For the past year, Mitchell said his eighth-grade daughter has been late to her softball and basketball games, getting there just minutes before the game starts. 

"They would have to get right on the court and get five to 10 minutes of warmup time," Mitchell said. 

The issue boils down to a shortage of school bus drivers.

Brad Underhill, the director of transportation for the Nassau County School District, said they are short nine drivers, meaning they have about one driver for every 84 students.

The district said that number will only increase after Christmas break. 

"The growth in Yulee has been incredible, the amount of students we serve is incredible. We are keeping our heads above water," Underhill said. 

With the bus driver shortage, a bus is typically packed with close to 80 elementary students and they want to get that number down to 50 students per bus. 

"They fit 80 kids on a bus, that's a very large number. That's three kids to a seat, that's excessive," parent Michael Shumake said. 

Besides students being late for sporting events, Underhill said field trips are getting canceled or shortened, and he calls the shortage a statewide issue. 

"Duval County schools are short and we rely on them to fulfill contracts we have," Underhill said. 

To become a driver, the state requires 40 hours of training and a commercial driver’s license.  Underhill said he is working with the union to come up with incentives to recruit drivers. 

"I just wonder, is it lack of recruiting? Is their pay rate too low?" Mitchell said. 

The next training class to become a bus driver is this weekend, Dec. 2 and 3. 
If you’re interested, call the transportation office at 904-225-0127.

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