Hillsborough school district needs bus drivers - WFLA News Channel 8

Hillsborough school district needs bus drivers

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Herb Harris had planned on this time being his care-free retirement years. But after a few months of that, his wife had other ideas.

"She says you can drive a bus. There's a big shortage of drivers in Hillsborough, go get a job," Harris said.

The retired military officer decided to put his skills to use. And a couple of months ago started driving for the Hillsborough County Public Schools (SDHC).

"This is leading," he said. "To me these are like little platoons I'm running around trying to develop into teams."

The district is looking for more people like Harris, especially during the summer.

"Our summer encompasses basically a complete reset," John Franklin, General Manager of transportation for SDHC, said. "A lot of our drivers will be meeting and working with new students so we want to make sure they're fully prepared to service those students."

And they need more drivers to do that. Right now they have more than 1,100 drivers, but they need at least 150 more.

During the regular school year, there are about a thousand school buses on the road every day. During the summer, that number is just under 400.

There are tough requirements to become a bus driver, including scores of classroom hours and a good driving record. You have to have a CDL, have at least a 10th grade education or equivalent at least five years driving experience. But that's not all.

 Here's a closer look at the criteria:

  • You must be at least 21 years of age
  • Have at least 10th grade education or equivalent
  • Have at least five (5) years driving experience
  • Possess a valid CDL license
  • Phase I - Obtain driver manual to study for written test that consists of:
    1. general knowledge
    2. passenger endorsement
    3. air brake
    4. school bus driver "S" endorsement
  • A CDL Phase 1 class B permit will be provided by the applicant before interview. This can be obtained at any drivers license office by completing the general knowledge, air brake, "S" endorsement and passenger endorsement written test at no charge to applicant. The CDL Class B Phase II is provided by the Transportation Department after training is completed.
  • Transportation requires Hillsborough County Public Schools' Buses to be parked within Hillsborough County except by special permission. We will assist in locating parking sites.
  • Have and maintain a working home telephone number.
  • Rate of pay per hour is $10.56 at a minimum of seven (7) hours paid after you complete a work day, with no set guarantee of hours as a substitute. Summer time work is assigned first to permanent drivers at a minimum of five (5) hours per day.
  • You would have to agree to work or drive anywhere in Hillsborough County; and agree to keep your school bus clean inside and out to pass inspection.
  • Classroom and on the road training consists of 62 hours paid after passing all required subjects and driving skills.
  • Pay periods are every two weeks and hospital and retirement benefits begin after a driver becomes permanent.
  • Applicants should be somewhat familiar with the main roadways in the county.
  • You will need to provide Transportation with two telephone numbers where you can be reached for an interview.
  • Assignments are determined by the Transportation Department and normally consist of runs for three schools due to staggered bell times, i.e., high school, elementary, middle school.
  • All bus drivers are subject to random alcohol and drug testing, in addition to the required testing included as part of the annual physical exam.
  • The Transportation Department will screen your application. Should you meet the requirements, you will be scheduled for an interview.

Franklin said that "folks that have a good driving record, history record, clean criminal history background and a big desire to work with children" should apply.

So if you need a job or you're like Herb Harris, looking for a second phase of your working life, the district urges you to apply.

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