Many of you know that our biggest challenge throughout last school year was a shortage of bus drivers, which required many of our team members to drive not only their own route, but also to drive a second route. This often resulted in students being delayed in their arrival at school.
As we prepare for the new school year, there are still 20 school bus routes that do not have a driver assigned to them. These staff shortages will continue to result in some delays when school begins.
This is not the news that I hoped to bring to you, and we are working very hard each day to fill our bus driver vacancies:
- We continue to expand our recruitment campaign; in fact, you may begin to notice an increased presence of advertisements in the local media to recruit bus drivers.
- We are awaiting the results of a study that could lead to further salary increases for our drivers.
- Beginning in January, we will be adding vehicles to our fleet that are smaller than our traditional buses and do not require the driver to have a commercial license.
- Also, we are examining additional options to eliminate delays as quickly as possible. While no final decisions have been made, here are some of the actions we are evaluating:
- Changing some school and bus schedules for the 2023-24 school year;
- Regional partnerships (e.g., CAT) to share services;
- Converting some bus driver positions from part-time to full-time; and
- Joining with Charlottesville City to hire an outside expert to study permanent solutions.
Realizing the impact that delayed schedules have on your child and your family, we are working to improve the way we communicate with you about a delay. As early as possible, we will send you a voice, email and text message stating the bus number and estimated arrival time of your child’s bus. To the extent possible, we will try to avoid impacting the same families on a constant basis.
Every day, our primary focus is enhancing your child’s transportation experience. As we approach 14 million safe miles of school bus service, all of our drivers remain committed to the safety of your child and to making their travel to and from school as welcoming and enjoyable as possible.
If you would like to support our students in a part-time role with full-time benefits, please consider becoming a school bus driver. We also encourage you to refer family members and friends who might be interested. To view our job openings and apply, please visit our Job Listings site and enter “transportation” in the Search box. You can also visit our Transportation website or call 434-973-5716 to learn more about our department.
Working together, I know we will solve this national challenge here in Albemarle County Public Schools.
Director of Transportation Services