ACPS delays addressing school bus driver shortage

Published: Oct. 14, 2022 at 5:21 PM EDT
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ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (WVIR) - The pitch was simple: pay drivers more and you’ll get more drivers, but Albemarle’s school board is not ready to commit to that, at least not right away.

“This has really been a nationwide issue and many school divisions are struggling with recruiting bus drivers,” ACPS spokesperson Phil Giaramita said.

The shortage is a frustration for many parents.

“It results in delays for students getting to and from school, sometimes up to an hour or more, and that’s obviously not an optimal situation,” Giaramita said.

The school board hired an outside firm to see why they can’t find drivers. In a word, it’s money.

The compensation study looked at 15 school systems and what they were paying their drivers, and Albemarle was well down the list.

“We came in something like 12 out of the 15 in terms of the pay scales, the hourly wages for starting drivers. So, we have a lot of ground to cover and it’s very difficult to be able to recruit drivers at the level you need to when your pay rates are at or near the bottom,” Giaramita said.

Right now, Albemarle school bus drivers start at $16.52 an hour. The consultants suggest $21 an hour.

“The big factor for us, the thing that we think is going to have an immediate impact, is raising the pay rate so that we’re more competitive in the market.”

The decision about doing that though was not immediate, and it’s being delayed for at least two weeks.

“The logic for waiting is it has been the policy of the board on any financial issues to not make immediate decisions, but to make decisions at a future meeting which gives the public an opportunity to weigh in to offer their point of view about about whether they support the use of public money for that purpose,” Giaramita said.

The vote on bus driver wages is now planned for the school board’s October 27 meeting.

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