Florence School District 3 principal, teachers may add ‘bus driver’ to duties if shortage continues

Published: Jul. 25, 2022 at 5:19 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 26, 2022 at 6:52 AM EDT
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FLORENCE COUNTY, S.C. (WMBF)- Teachers and principals may take the wheel as Florence District 3 looks to fill bus driver vacancies.

The district currently needs three more bus drivers before the start of the 2022-2023 school year.

“From the top down is kids first, which is the reason why we are in this business,” said TJ Devine, the principal of J.C. Lynch Elementary School. “Before we do anything else, we are going to love the kids. That’s our purpose for being here.”

Last year, Devine drove his students to and from school. He was one of five full-time staff to drive a school bus.

“We’ve always had bus driver shortages, but now is really prevalent. In the past, we could find some subs. We can get some people to fill in. But just like any other industry now education is no different. We can’t find people,” said Devine.

Each year, the district needs 17 bus drivers. This year, the district has 12 drivers committed for the school year and three more in training, but there is still a need.

“We enjoy getting on the bus in the afternoon, and the relationships that we get to build with those kids are something even more special than the ones we have every day because we get an hour to talk to them on their way home,” said Devine.

With a new state budget increase, FD3 is offering each week a $100 incentive to bus drivers.

The hope is to have additional drivers, so they only have one route and other staff members don’t have to drive.

“It made it appealing to some of our people that are in the district that ‘[in the past said,] ‘Hey I don’t want to drive a bus,’” said Kevin Graham, the transportation supervisor for FD3.

Graham said that he will not turn down other school staff members that want to help drive kids to school.

It will take about a month for new bus drivers to finish training before they may drive for the district.

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