Chesterfield County Public Schools is chipping away at a “huge deficit” of bus drivers that has caused delays and long school drop-off and pick-up lines.
“We entered this year with a huge [bus driver] deficit, and it’s something that keeps me awake at night, and we are doing our best to communicate with our families as they’re feeling the pain,” the school system’s Chief Operations Officer Josh Davis said during a Tuesday afternoon School Board work session.
The district, which has had a deficit of drivers for the past few years, opened this school year down 100 drivers.
After the school system announced an increase in hourly wages and offered new bonuses, a slew of candidates applied, Davis said.
Wages increased by $3 an hour to $20.21, and a $3,000 bonus is being broken up and factored into several paychecks during the school year.
Drivers can also earn smaller bonuses for safe driving and perfect attendance.
While Chesterfield has had over 600 applicants, human resources have interviewed 513 potential new drivers. The department is attempting to reach an additional 42 candidates, Davis said.
However, delays can occur in an applicant’s process, and as a result, 137 candidates’ background checks are pending. For those who pass the background check, the next step is a medical component that includes a drug test and a physical. There are 127 candidates in the medical phase, Davis said.
“So the good news is a lot of candidates have made it through that process, especially in the last two weeks,” Davis said. “We’ve had HR pass to us .... 112 candidates, since the announcement was made on the change of wages [and] we’ve got 27 new bus drivers that have made it all the way.”
In other business, the School Board received an update on the projected number of students who are set to attend the newly built 900-seat Moseley Elementary, once it opens next fall in the Matoaca District.
School officials are projecting enrollment at the school to be between 92% and 97% in its first year.
Schools Planning Administrator Atonja Allen said the system didn’t have an “ideal capacity” established, but are targeting between 92% and 95%.
Moseley Elementary is under construction off Magnolia Green Parkway in the western Hull Street Road corridor.
Last month, the School Board and county Board of Supervisors announced two middle schools would come on line for the 2024-2025 school year.
The schools, a replacement Falling Creek Middle in the Dale District and a brand new middle school near the future Moseley Elementary, are slated to cost about $65 million each.
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