Florence One taps school employees to help with bus driver shortage

Florence One taps school employees to help with bus driver shortage
Aundres Perkins, a career specialist, will be driving a bus for West Florence where he works. (Source: Florence School District One)

FLORENCE, S.C. (WMBF) – Six employees with Florence One Schools took the district up on its offer for more money for driving buses.

In an effort to fill the district’s bus driver shortage, in November, employees were given the option of running bus routes on top of their current position. Those who said “yes” received a $2,000 sign-on bonus as well as a daily salary supplement, according to FSD1.

According to the district, the six employees who accepted the offer either already had their commercial driver’s license or completed the necessary training in order to get their CDL and endorsements to work as a bus driver.

Before their first run, the new drivers met with the interim transportation director Mitchell Washington and did dry runs on their routes, a press release stated. The employees will keep their bus at their school during the day.

One of those driving is Southside Middle School English teacher Robin. According to FSD1, she got her CDL a few years ago when a district principal needed someone to drive students to athletic events.

“I always like learning new things, so I volunteered,” Voss said. “It was a week of classwork and then a test. You have to pass four tests at the DMV, log several hours of driving with a mentor, and then yet another test, including a 68-point inspection on the bus. Oddly, I can’t back a trailer, but I can parallel park a bus.”

Having mostly driven for Wilson and Williams athletes, Voss said she will enjoy the opportunity to drive students from her school.

According to the release, Scott Szalwinski, an electrical instructor at the Florence Career Center, said that he already had his CDL and had driven before so when the opportunity came up, he was happy to step into the role.

“My principal was very supportive and it doesn’t add that much to my schedule,” Szalwinski said. “I’ve done it before and really enjoy it. (Our) students and families are what makes serving with F1S the best place to be.”

Aundres Perkins, a career specialist, will be driving for West Florence where he works, according to the district. Perkins said that he loves working with students so driving the bus is just another opportunity for him to do that.

“I enjoy interacting with F1S students so I’m excited for the opportunity to get to meet kids that might not be what I’m used to working with, which is high school,” Perkins said. “Any opportunity to positively impact our kids, through counseling, coaching or driving their bus, is a great opportunity for me. Plus, they keep me young!”

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