Albemarle County Public Schools’ (ACPS) bus driver “shortage” may be—at least in part—self-created.
Correspondence received from an anonymous source within the ACPS transportation system takes aim at Transportation Director, Charmane White, and purports that incompetent management is impeding the implementation of obvious driver-shortage solutions.
According to the letter, many ACPS transportation department employees have a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) and could be utilized to ameliorate the division’s present student-transportation woes:
In the latter part of 2018 it became evident that Transportation management had decided they were no longer team players with the schools in their efforts to get the students to school. The then director of Transportation, Jim Foley, verbalized often that he “wanted the principals to feel the pain” as he felt the principals did not support his efforts in attempting to obtain driver pay raises. This is when management stopped allowing many department employees (mechanics, clerks, dispatchers, etc…) to assist on runs with no drivers. When asking if someone in one of these positions could cover a run the response would be “no, they said that they want the principals to feel the pain”. Obviously this mindset is still in play. There are many Transportation employees with CDLs that could be utilized as drivers; mechanics, parts and service personnel, office staff, and managers. They drove in the past when need dictated. Review the records, it was a consistent practice for ALL department employees with a CDL to drive if need dictated, until, as mentioned above, the attitude “we want the principals to feel the pain” was adopted in 2018. Needless to say, it is the students and drivers that have been most affected by the decision not to use all resources available to get the students to school. White, present Transportation Director, has been quoted as saying that utilizing these people takes them away from the jobs in which they were hired for. In times such as this shouldn’t they be utilizing all resources available to them? Why are they allowing the children to be late when staff exists to drive these routes? Why is this tolerated? Transportation has always been short of drivers, however, previous directors (Davis, Hastings, Smith) utilized all staff to fill the void and made it a priority to get the children to school on time. It was not a chess game or power struggle for them. Principals were respected. Transportation’s priority was to get the children to school. They did it, and everyone got the job done that they were hired to do. [emphasis added]
The letter goes on to list, by initials, those who have left driving positions because of substandard transportation department protocols and crony-based management hiring practices:
Yes, Transportation is short of drivers, this is not a new phenomenon, however, the shortage has increased significantly, particularly this year. This is not due to pay or there not being individuals that will drive, it is because of management. Had driver concerns been listened to and heard, a qualified candidate from outside would have been selected to replace Foley.
Employees are not leaving for higher paying jobs, they are quitting management. Ask *AR, DO, AB, CB, XJ, CS, MR, DW, DY, DB, RD, JH, AS, or TC, to name just a few, why they quit. Trust that more resignations are imminent.
Recent Schilling Show editorials detail other problems with ACPS Transportation and Division management regarding unbearable working conditions and lack of respect for bus drivers. These issues have yet to be addressed.
In the meantime, there have been unconfirmed reports that ACPS is packing more students on school busses than is safe, in order to lessen transportation backlogs.
Ultimately, responsibility for the ACPS transportation failure rests with the Albemarle County School Board and Superintendent Matt Haas, neither of whom appear interested in taking necessary remedial actions—or even acknowledging the chronic, existent problems.