Kids getting home late; OCPS considers bonuses to attract bus drivers

Some parents of students enrolled in Orange County Public Schools (OCPS) are frustrated with late school bus pick-ups and drop-offs. 

"They’re tired. They just want to get home and they can’t," said Laysha Vega. 

Her two sons go to Cypress Creek High School. 

She says even though they live about five minutes from the school, the bus has been dropping her boys off nearly two hours after dismissal. Some days they give up waiting and walk home.

"They’re really upset - having to walk out in this heat is not easy," Vega said. 

We asked her son to document his bus ride Thursday afternoon. He said he wasn’t going to leave the school until after five so he found another way home.  

The district said the delays are due to a shortage of bus drivers. 

"They’re having to do double runs where they’ll drop students off and then go back and pick up students and take them home," said OCPS spokesman Scott Howat. 

OCPS said 32 routes don’t have a driver. Other Central Florida school districts are in the same boat. 

Osceola County needs 35 drivers, Seminole County is looking for 12 to 15, and Brevard has 40 openings. 

"It’s a national issue not having enough drivers that are able to drive buses. We’re doing everything we can, trying to be as efficient as we can and to try to get those routes taken care of," Howat said. 

"I don’t want my kids to walk home from school," Vega explained. "Not every parent has the ability to pick them up. For me, it’s impossible." 

Howat says the district is considering offering a $2,500 bonus to bus drivers if they sign on before October 8. 

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