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Charlottesville and Albemarle both short bus drivers for coming school year

Published: Jul. 20, 2021 at 6:52 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - Both Albemarle County and Charlottesville school districts are facing a bus driver shortage. It could be a big issue for the upcoming, fully in-person school year.

“We’re thrilled to be welcomed back to school, but unfortunately with this major bus driver shortage, we’re anticipating that we’re going to be asking families and parents to be finding alternative ways to get students to school,” Amanda Korman, community relations liaison for Charlottesville City Schools said.

This has been an ongoing issue for a while. Many forgot about it during the pandemic, when school was mainly done at home.

“It’s been going on for at least 10 years or more,” Phil Giaramita, the strategic communications officer for Albemarle County Schools, said.

The problem is a caused by a combination of issues. There is a lack of incentive to drive, because of the pay. But there are a lot of groups that need drivers.

“Bus drivers are a prized commodity, or a prized resource in our area because there’s a lot of competition, and not just the city,” Giaramita said. “There are a lot of transportation companies, they compete for the same skills in terms of drivers.”

There is now an active plan to fix this problem. Charlottesville City Council approved a plan Monday to provide $2,400 bonuses for bus drivers. The plan also includes health insurance benefits. Albemarle County brought drivers wage to $15 an hour and is also giving them full-time benefits as part-time employees.

“Because hiring of school bus drivers happens through the city of Charlottesville, we’re really truly appreciative,” Korman said. “But a lot more work has to be done.”

School starts late August but as of now, this shortage will still be a problem then.

Albemarle County is holding a driver training session next week, in hopes of recruiting some more staff.

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