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Bus delays in Chesterfield continue as school district experiences driver shortage

Published: Aug. 24, 2021 at 6:51 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 24, 2021 at 10:01 PM EDT
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CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WWBT) - As the second day of school wraps up in Chesterfield County, many parents report delays with their school buses arriving to pick up and drop off their children.

The delay comes more than a week after Chesterfield County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Merv Daugherty says the school district is down 100 bus drivers for the upcoming school year.

In a video message posted on the school district’s Facebook page, the superintendent urges parents to drop off and pick up their children from school.

A Chesterfield parent, who didn’t want to be identified, experienced this delay on Monday morning when her first-grader was heading to Curtis Elementary School.

“Her bus was supposed to arrive at 8:47 a.m.,” said the parent. “At about 9:15 a.m., we noticed the bus never got there.”

This parent says her father dropped her off at school. When it came time for her daughter to go home, this parent says there was another delay.

“The bus was supposed to get to our house at 4:35 p.m.; bus did not get there until 5:30,” said the parent. “When the bus did arrive, it was a different bus number than what we were told she would be riding.”

In a video statement sent by Chesterfield Schools on Tuesday afternoon, Daugherty addressed the frustration.

“We’ve had some glitches in our transportation department. We apologize for that,” he said. “We’re working hard to fix these problems.”

A spokesperson for Chesterfield County Public Schools says the district is continuing to share with families that there will be delays due to driver shortages.

In addition, the spokesperson says students are being transported from each existing bus stop and bus drivers are taking on additional routes.

Parents, including Beth Tinsley, waited in line to pick up their kids at Bon Air Elementary School on Tuesday afternoon.

She said she’s following the superintendent’s message to lend a helping hand during this bus driver shortage.

“I’d wait an hour if it meant my kid wasn’t getting home until 6 p.m.,” she said. “Trying to help out and also keep our kids from getting stuck longer than they ought to be.”

Other parents, like Claire Bjorkholm, are asking others to be patient and understanding through this process.

“It’s a big change for a lot of families in our community,” said Bjorkholm. “I think if we can be patient, stay in the moment, and keep breathing, we’ll all just be super happy.”

After another delay this morning, the Chesterfield parent is looking at other ways to get her daughter to school

“I’m thinking at this point I’m probably going to just take her to school the rest of the week,” said the parent.

The parent also makes it clear that she doesn’t blame the bus drivers for the delays.

Chesterfield County Public Schools also says parents can access their child’s bus stop locations through an app. If there are any major changes, the school district says the transportation department will contact the school and try to contact the parents.

In regards to recruiting more bus drivers, the spokesperson for Chesterfield County Public Schools shared the starting hourly pay for bus drivers in the district, which is $17.21. The school district says this pay can increase to $25.73 an hour with experience.

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