JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Duval County Public Schools students wrapped up their first day back to school Monday.
In a media briefing, Superintendent Dr. Diana Greene called it an overall success, despite the transportation delays.
“It is always an issue on the first day and the first couple of weeks,” she said.
Almost 200 school buses were delayed on the first day, some as late as an hour and a half.
“This year I have two new words: patience and engagement. On the first day of school, patience with our one issue that we had today, transportation,” she added.
Greene says there are almost 900 school bus routes across the county, while the district still needs around 50 additional drivers to cover all of its routes.
“Our contractors are in the process of hiring over 100 drivers, but it does take time,” Greene said. “Hopefully over the next few weeks we will see those delays get better.”
Greene said other challenges include drivers learning new routes, and consolidating them.
She also said schools with many Exceptional Student Education students have seen delays, because drivers need to take extra care loading students and items like wheelchairs.
The bus driver shortage is just one part of the problem the district is facing this start of the school year. DCPS still needs 389 teachers and 111 paraprofessionals in its 154 schools.
Despite the challenges, Greene is confident moving forward.
“I believe that we are going to have a fantastic ‘22-’23 school year,” Greene concluded.
In the briefing, Greene also said more than 95% of requests for substitute teachers were filled the first day of school. Greene said last year, the fill rate was at 75% on the first day.
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