Switching lanes: What this Henrico mother decided to do about the bus driver shortage

Henrico County

HENRICO COUNTY, Va (WRIC) – There are still not enough Henrico County Public School bus drivers to meet students’ needs. The district held a job fair Tuesday, looking to recruit people to help their shortage of 100 drivers.

One of the people applying that day was Henrico mother Erica Williams. As a parent, she’s seen the issues caused by the driver shortage first-hand. “My daughter goes to John Rolfe [Middle], so they’re always late,” she said.

Williams said she wants to help be a part of the solution. “I feel like, why not? I can be a friendly driver,” she said.

She will have to train to get her commercial driver’s license but said she’ll do whatever it takes to ease the driver’s schedules.

“So, if I could help like get one shift off of their backs, I would love that,” she said.

Henrico mom Erica Williams speaks with 8News reporter Sabrina Shutters right after applying to be a bus driver with the school district. (Photo: 8News reporter Sabrina Shutters)

Charnelle Meredith, another applicant, said she also thinks it’s important to step up and apply to help the children who need an on-time ride to school.

“I just wish everybody would think about the kids,” Meredith told 8News in an interview Tuesday.

Meredith said she’s been a bus driver since 2009 and wants to bring her passion of working with kids to HCPS.

The hiring bonuses and increase in pay for Henrico for bus drivers isn’t as much as what’s being offered in other local school districts. One human resources specialist told 8News it could be hurting the district when it comes to hiring enough people to fill the positions.

Meredith said the pandemic is also one reason some people may not be applying.

“What we’re going through right now with the COVID and everything somewhat has people scared, to take that chance to be a school bus driver,” she said.

At least 50 drivers are in the application and onboarding process, but the district would need to double that number to fill all the open positions.

Applicant Charnelle Meredith speaks with a recruiter at the HCPS job fair Tuesday as she applied to be a bus driver for the district. (Photo: 8News reporter Sabrina Shutters)

Meredith already has her commercial driver’s license needed to drive a school bus. HR specialist Angel Robinson said applicants like Meredith who have moved in from out of town and are already trained are like “jewels” to the district.

“It’s a great thing that they don’t have to worry about me taking and doing the training,” Meredith said.

The district is also hiring nutrition services workers and temporary instructional assistants.

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