Charlottesville City Schools still looking to fill majority of bus driving staff

Published: Aug. 16, 2022 at 2:35 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - Charlottesville City Schools is scrambling to fix an urgent problem: As of Friday, August 12, It only has nine bus drivers, and school starts Wednesday, Aug. 24.

CCS says it needs a total of 31 drivers.

“We are well below what we need in order to have a fully-functioning system that can serve all the families that have been served in the past by our bus service,” Amanda Korman with CCS said.

CCS is telling more students to walk to school if they can.

“We’re really aware that those rainy days are going to be a challenge, which is why we’re working to make sure that all students have reindeer ponchos, umbrellas, covers for their shoes so that they are able to get to get to school dry. We also are working with community partners who have alternative forms of transportation that we may be able to use on those rainy days,” Korman said.

CCS says it increased benefits and salary, but those efforts fell flat. According to the city’s job opportunities website, school bus drivers earn $17-$19.77 per hour. Albemarle County is offering $16.62-$20.62, while Louisa County - which is now fully staffed - started at $22 an hour.

“Normally, our roster is about 160 to 170 bus drivers,” Albemarle County Public Schools Spokesperson Phil Giaramita said. “We’re going to begin the school year down about 18 drivers.”

Albemarle Co. says it will still run all 550 bus routes, just with some delays.

“A bus driver will complete their normal route, drop off children at school, and then turn around and do another route,” Giaramita said. “And so that does result in some delays for children getting to school, sometimes as much as a half hour to an hour, and unfortunately, there’s not much we can do about that.”

In Charlottesville, those who will get to ride the bus found out this past weekend.

“At the end of the day, we know that this is a really difficult thing, and we’re walking with those families and working with them every day,” Korman said.

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