Job fairs helping ACPS recruit more bus drivers

The bus driver shortage is impacting schools nationwide and it’s continuing to hit Albemarle County
Published: Mar. 19, 2022 at 7:36 PM EDT
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ALBEMARLE COUNTY, VA. (WVIR) - The bus driver shortage is impacting schools nationwide and it’s continuing to hit Albemarle County. There is still a desperate need for both full-time drivers and substitutes.

The county is looking for 10 to 15 new additions to the team as it takes steps to heal the driver shortage.

“We have taken out an aggressive approach to address this concern and especially for the safety of our students,” ACPS Director of Transportation, Charmane White said.

White’s approach involves a week of job fairs.

“We’re going to be recruiting on a monthly basis,” White said. “In addition to that I have teamed up with the transportation localities, locally, to see whether or not we can evaluate and see how we can help each other.”

She says she’s looking into alternative transportation for the county, like smaller buses that may be more appealing to new drivers.

“I’m just a school dad who got tired of my daughter getting picked up late because of staffing shortages,” substitute driver, Anton Largiader said. “If they’re looking for drivers, you know if they need someone to call in the morning, to get this bus around loop, I can do this.”

Largiader has been a substitute driver for about two years, but that role has shifted a lot in the past year.

“Every morning on the radio you hear the drivers talking back and forth trying to resolve the issues that they have with staffing and people,” Largiader said.

Recently he’s been called in more frequently because of the shortages. He says making things run smoothly is a team effort.

“We just need more people doing this,” Largiader said. “We try to get kids to school on a very predictable timeframe.”

The team includes all experience levels. Jeanette Reynolds has been doing this for 36 years. She says the children are why she hits the road every day.

“It’s all about the kids to see their smiling faces in the morning,” Reynolds said.

Friday about 10 drivers came out to the fair and 20 applied including some online submissions. While that may seem like the ideal number to fix the shortage, there is a bit of a lag in this solution. Training takes about six weeks, and the county is still looking for more help.

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