LEE COUNTY, Fla. — Lee County School District serves thousands of students and as we've previously reported, with the bus driver shortage, the district anticipated major delays.
The last time we checked with Lee County officials, they told us that the district has 595 drivers on staff. However, Lee County needs 729 drivers to operate at maximum efficiency.
This shortage is concerning since it impacts how children get to and from school. At the conclusion of the first day of school, Fox 4 reached out to the district to see how student transportation went.
Dr. Christopher Bernier, Superintendent of the School District of Lee County, told Fox 4 that everything went well despite the district anticipating major delays with the routes.
Rob Spicker, the spokesman for Lee County Schools, told Fox 4 that there were delays, but significantly less than what the district expected. The concern was due to the number of routes that had to be consolidated. The district also worried about drivers potentially calling in sick.
However, only five drivers called out on Wednesday. Spicker said on a normal day, they have upwards of 55 drivers who will call out. The district had 39 routes to cover today which is considered a manageable number. The spokesman added that if the district had the average number of sick calls they would have had to cover 120 routes.
Dr. Bernier told Fox 4 that around 90,000 students were transported today and since today went really well, he hopes things get easier as the year progresses.
"I want them [parents] to just be patient with us. We are going to work through this. Transportation did a great job today collapsing routes," said Dr. Bernier. “We still have some bus drivers in the pipeline, that are currently testing and now coming into their position. As we get more of our drivers, the on-time percentage will keep getting better and better.”
Lee County School District is still hiring bus drivers and they'll pay for you to get your CDL license. If you are interested, click here.