After starting the school year without enough bus drivers, Albemarle County Public Schools said they are days away from providing bus service to all students who need it.
As of Tuesday, 160 students who requested afternoon bus service still don’t have it. But by Nov. 20, all the routes will be staffed with enough bus drivers to provide that service, said Rosalyn Schmitt, chief operating officer for ACPS, at the Nov. 9 school board meeting.
At the start of the school year, 994 students on 12 routes were without bus transportation. ACPS did not notify parents and guardians about the transportation shortage until two weeks before the first day of school. By mid-September, the district still had two routes without drivers.
But according to officials, county schools aren’t clear of transportation challenges.
“Our staffing continues to remain challenged and our application pool has dwindled, but we are committed to working on this challenge,” Schmitt said.
The two last routes that are re-starting next week impact 160 students at Mountain View Elementary School, Walton Middle School, Journey Middle School and Albemarle High School.
Five additional drivers are currently in training, with two expected to hit the road on Monday, Schmitt said.
Last school year, ACPS reported an average daily ridership of fewer than 6,000 students riding the bus.They started the 2023-24 school year serving about 8,600 students, Schmitt said at an Aug. 10 school board meeting, 90% of those who asked for bus transportation.
To fill in that 10% gap, county schools consolidated routes and offered students alternate bus stops, while hiring and training more bus drivers. Students who live within a certain distance from a school are automatically placed in a “walk zone” and are ineligible to get a seat on a bus.
But students’ needs can change. If a student requested a bus but now has other transportation, Schmitt said at the Aug. 10 meeting said families should reach out to their child’s school with the update.
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