ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. — When a county grows as fast as St. Johns County is growing, there’s a demand for all kinds of things, including school bus drivers.
"I love to be around the kids," Ahleen Campillo smiled. She is a school bus driver in St. Johns County. The kids call her Miss Ahleen.
She admitted, she did not know how to drive a bus when she started three years ago.
"I never drove something like this in my life," she pointed to the big yellow bus. But she was trained.
"After the first months, I fell in love with it," Campillo said.
She has four children of her own, and she said her work schedule works well with her children's school schedules.
The school district now even has a full-time employee working as a recruiter to fill those driver’s seats. His name is Rob Curtis.
"We’re always looking for operators," he said. "We transport 22,000 students a day."
That’s certainly not the biggest county in Florida, but it’s one of the fastest-growing when it comes to population.
"We just growing, expanding," Curtis noted. "They’ve added almost a hundred routes since I’ve been here and that's in just three years. We just grow so fast."
The St. Johns County school district has 270 drivers now, he said, and it needs at least 26 more drivers. However, Curtis said that number could be bigger in just a day.
So, yard signs, banners, and now an old bus turned into a recruitment mobile are all over St. Johns County.
Curtis said bus drivers in the district must go through a background check. Also, a commercial driver's license is needed. However, if an applicant does not have one, the school district will train you.
And while the applicant is training to get the license, the county is paying him/her $13/hour.
Once on the road, wages start at $16/hour.
St. Johns County has needed more bus drivers for years because for years the population has accelerated.
Now the district is putting the pedal to the medal when it comes to searching for more bus drivers especially ones like Campillo who after three years is now training new drivers.
She humbly smiled and said, "I love it. I love my job."