Major staffing shortage leaves Hillsborough schools with 150 unstaffed bus routes

There are major staffing shortages across the country and schools are included in that struggle.

Hillsborough County Schools -- the 7th largest district in the country -- held a job fair Wednesday to try to fill about 900 open positions.

Getting those jobs filled with qualified candidates is crucial because they directly impact the students.

Hillsborough County Public Schools needs about 500 teachers, 100 custodial staff, 150 in student nutrition, and more than 130 bus drivers.

"Currently we have 152 routes that are not covered on a daily basis," explained Jim Beekman, HCPS general manager of transportation.

RELATED: Pasco schools consider 'far-reaching' schedule change due to bus driver shortage

District leaders hope Wednesday's job fair can bridge the gap.

It's the same for Pasco County Schools.

"Chronically late buses remain the norm," said Betsy Kuhn, Pasco County’s assistant superintendent of support services.

The county’s school website shows more than 400 openings. 

At the start of the school year, the Florida Education Association reported nearly 9,000 openings, up more than 67% from August 2020.

The stress and uncertainty of the pandemic is a major factor. FEA also points to low pay and heavy-handed policies from state leaders as deterrents to filling open spots.

At the end of the day, schools need to educate, feed, and transport kids.

"We are really looking for people who like kids," said Shani Hall, of HCPS Student Nutrition Services. "No nights, no weekends, no summers, no holidays."

Hillsborough County's student nutrition is offering flexible schedules, while transportation promises a paycheck during training and recruitment bonuses for current employees.

"We're making double trips and triple trips and everything else and people are tired. Parents are tired. You know, the kids are," Beekman said.

Anyone who missed Wednesday’s job fair is asked to apply online at