To Fill Critical Labor Shortages, School Board Approves Near-Term Pay Increases for Bus Drivers, Nurses, Trades Positions

(ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Virginia)—Moving quickly to implement the findings of a comprehensive study and analysis of its ability to recruit and retain a high-quality workforce, the Albemarle County School Board, at their meeting on October 27, approved recommendations from the school division’s Human Resources department to move forward with a series of pay increases for key positions beginning in December. The study and analysis were completed over several months earlier this year by Segal, an internationally-recognized management consultant firm specializing in competitive compensation and benefit systems for both private and public sector organizations.

Following a series of employee compensation increases that totaled 15% over the past 15 months, the study found that approximately 70% of all positions in the school division were at market levels. The increases approved last evening address several positions found to be below market, and they will accelerate the division’s ability to fill vacancies in such critical need areas as school bus drivers, school nurses, and the building trades.

The pay adjustments also begin to implement one of the three goals in the division’s strategic plan, Learning for All, which calls for the development of equitable and transformative resources in support of student learning. One of the goal’s strategies is a total compensation structure that makes the school division highly competitive in its recruitment and retention of highly skilled professionals. This strategy has become even more urgent in the current economic climate when many private and public service employers are unable to fill key positions.

Among the salary increases that will go into effect on December 17 is a jump in the hourly pay of starting school bus drivers, from just over $16.50 at present to $21.50. The division also is instituting a step scale for drivers, similar to that in place for teachers, that will include annual increases in compensation based upon years of experience. This is in addition to any salary increases adopted by the school board for all employees.

School nurses who hold a Registered Nurse (RN) license are moving into a higher pay grade effective December 17, from $21.62 an hour to $28.64 at the lower end of experience, and at the higher end, from $35.28 an hour to $46.76.

Other positions characterized as hard to fill, meaning they have been attracting a small pool of applicants or remain unfilled for an extended period of time, also will have their hourly pay increased in December. These include, for instance, positions in Building Services, Technology, and Transportation.

Several job categories, including office associates, maintenance mechanics, and staff in Transportation and Child Nutrition, will have their current job responsibilities evaluated for possible upgrades in their current pay scale classification.

A second phase of salary adjustments, taking effect on April 1 of next year, also was approved by the school board. These adjustments impact several additional positions in Building Services, Technology, Finance, Child Nutrition, Communications, and office associates. School psychologists, social workers, and therapists are among those professionals who will be considered for salary adjustments in the division’s next fiscal year budget.

Separately, the school board will consider a recommendation that all employees receive a one-time $1,000 bonus in early December. This will be on the board’s agenda for their business meeting on November 10. This consideration follows the state’s decision to fund the bonus for some local school employees. The school division would supplement that funding to include all employees.

The Segal analysis included a list of school divisions and local governments that compete most directly with the school division for talent. The recommendation before the school board reduces the current competitive market, which was established in the early part of this century, from 28 to 15 school divisions, the City of Charlottesville and Albemarle County governments, and the University of Virginia. Among the criteria used by Segal are organizations from which the school division hires, organizations that hire employees from the school division, and an aspirational market that represents organizations with which the school division seeks to compete.

In addition to compensation, the study also suggested the school division consider improvements to its benefit plans, which the division said would include opportunities for employee input.

The entire Human Resources presentation to the board is available at: https://esb.k12albemarle.org/attachments/d487bbe1-e4fe-4d5f-b006-d66db9501447.pdf


CONTACT:Phil Giaramita, Strategic Communications Officer
PHONE:434-972-4049