ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. - Do you know who is driving your kids to school?

Thousands of bus drivers picking-up and dropping-off students every day, and the requirements to get behind the wheel in Northeast Florida districts require training and checks. It’s a routine now for Hugh McGuire, but one that carries a lot of responsibility.

"I’m focused once that bus starts rolling, I’m focused on getting those students where they need to go," McGuire said.

"The bring skill sets to the bus that they earned in their previous experiences," St. Johns County District Transportation Director Al Pantano said.

He explained St. Johns County has drivers who are Pantano is former military himself. He runs a team of more than 200 operators and staff with efficiency and effectiveness: knowing 'who’s who' and making sure they’re up to the standards.

"So that should be reassuring to a parent that if there is a police officer driving the bus that should be a reason to be reassured," Pantano said.

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Al Pantano explained many of his bus operators are retired including police officers, firefighters, and military servicemembers. 

Pantano says the district checks driver history weekly and puts them through training and workshops regularly.

"We’ll spend time on the track doing driver exercises and then we’ll spend time in the neighborhoods doing stop, pickup exercises, and light actuations," McGuire said.

Pantano added while he is always looking for new drivers, that won’t come at a sacrifice to quality.

St. Johns County District officials say all 213 bus operators have driving records checked weekly.
St. Johns County District officials say all 213 bus operators have driving records checked weekly.

"We’ve had instances where we’ve had a hundred interested applicants and if we get five or six out of that list, that’s the level of scrutiny that is applied," Pantano said.

Pantano encouraged parents to go and meet the drivers at the bus stop and keep-up with them.