Chesterfield County Schools down 100 bus drivers ahead of school year; families prepare possible backup plans

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CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WRIC)–With a new school year right around the corner, Chesterfield County families will see fewer school bus drivers picking up their students.

Merv Daugherty, the Superintendent of Chesterfield County Public Schools, said the district needs about 100 bus drivers. He made the announcement Sunday in a Facebook video.

“There’s a bus driver shortage. There’s no doubt about it,” he said. “Ninety-eight percent of our students are coming back to school this year.”

Daugherty added there is a struggle to find enough employees to fill positions all around the country. He asked parents to help out by driving their students to school.

In a written statement, the district said families should prepare for delays because of the shortage. However, students will be transported from each existing bus stop.

The announcement came nearly one week before classes begin on Aug. 23, but some families are struggling to find a backup plan.

Ali Foley Shenk, a Chesterfield County mother of three, can’t worry about unreliable transportation or delays as a full-time worker.

“We’ll try to send the ones we can on a bus like I might send my high schooler on the bus because he’s the farthest away,” she said. “Is that going to be reliable for him? I was told to check my children’s bus routes to make sure there’s a driver for their route at all,”

Shenk said she was shocked and disappointed watching the video Sunday night.

“I did not realize the deficit in drivers was quite that large,” she said. “One hundred drivers is a lot and this is not a new problem for Chesterfield.”

Shenk is writing a letter to the Virginia Department of Education to call on district leaders to present a long-term solution.

“What are they going to do,” she asked. “Okay, this is the situation, but especially if it hasn’t changed, what’s the plan?”

In the meantime, she’s trying to organize carpools with neighbors whose students attend the same schools if the bus driver shortage and possible delays aren’t resolved soon.

“That’s something that’s on CCPS,” Shenk said. “That’s not our problem and they really need to step up and come up with a solution to help families out cause that’s why they’re here.”

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