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Friday, January 7, 2022

Southwest Ocala resident discusses bus driver shortage, child safety at school board meeting

A southwest Ocala resident brought up concerns about a lack of Marion County school buses during this week’s school board meeting.

During the regular Marion County School Board meeting on Tuesday, November 9, Deloris Hill voiced her concerns about bus transportation and child safety issues within the county.

Southwest Ocala resident discusses bus driver shortage at school board meeting
Southwest Ocala resident Deloris Hill discusses a shortage of bus drivers during the Marion County School Board meeting on November 9

“Houston, we have a problem,” Hill began. “I understand with COVID, I understand the issues, I understand we have a certain amount of budgeting to do. But I’m asking on behalf of the children that need to make it to school.”

Hill is the legal caregiver of her granddaughter who is an 11th grader at Dunnellon High School. She stated that her granddaughter spends a lot of time standing at the bus stop waiting for a bus, sometimes waiting for up to an hour and a half.

Hill gave her sympathies to the family of a 10-year-old boy in Reddick who was recently struck and killed by a vehicle while walking to a bus stop.

“This is unacceptable,” Hill stated. “We can’t leave our children out in the elements. We can’t leave them standing there for an hour and a half.”

With the shortage, Hill mentioned that bus drivers are picking up junior high school students, dropping them off at school, and then coming back at a later time to pick up the high school students.

Hill stated that the prolonged wait times at the bus stop could lead to scenarios such as a dog attack or predators spying on the children.

In search of a solution, she told the board that bus drivers need more incentives, sign-on bonuses, and more money.

“Why would somebody want to come and drive one of our school buses? Because they can go over to FedEx and get paid more.”.

“Ask for funding,” she continued. “Go to a higher power. We’ve got two of the greatest men in the world living in the Sunshine State: (Ron) DeSantis and Donald Trump.”

“We can do better than this,” she stated. “I come to ask you, please, please address this matter, and see that we, as a team, as a family, can put our heads together and work harder. I’m not talking about a bake sale. I’m talking about working harder for our children.”