ACPS still feeling the impact from the bus driver shortage

Published: Feb. 8, 2022 at 5:50 PM EST
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ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (WVIR) - The need for bus drivers is affecting school districts across the country. Albemarle County is aggressively recruiting to fill the staffing gaps.

“We’re still in a difficult period,” Albemarle County Public Schools Spokesperson Phil Giaramita said.

When fully staffed, ACPS has 160 drivers covering more than 550 routes. However the district says it is still down 18 drivers, which causes backups getting students to class.

“You can eliminate some routes by combining them with others where that makes some sense, and we’ve got a fair amount of that which reduces the number of drivers you need. There are certain limitations as to how deeply you can do that,” Giaramita said.

Giaramita says some bus drivers pull double-duty, a situation ACPS tries to avoid.

“We have a practice that a lot of school divisions use that we call double-backs, which is a driver will transport students to school and then immediately go back out again and do another round and take those kids to school,” he said. “That always results in delays, sometimes half hour, sometimes as much as an hour to delaying students to be able to get to school.”

The hourly salary for new drivers in the county ranges from $15.42 to $16.20. ACPS says that it is going to increase by 4% in March.

“We already offer many bus drivers full health coverage - although the job itself is part time - and eligibility for the Virginia Retirement System,” Giaramita said. “Recruiting drivers is always an issue. It’s a national issue.

Albemarle County Public Schools will be hosting a job fair March 18 to try to recruit more bus drivers.

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