Montgomery Co. schools take a different route for driver jobs

CHRISTIANSBURG — The Montgomery County School Board last week approved a pilot plan to convert 10 bus driver jobs from part-time to full-time positions.

The move, approved by a 6-0 vote, will be aimed at addressing an ongoing pilot shortage that division officials are grappling with.

The school system currently has seven unfilled bus driver positions and has been prompted to eliminate three routes due to the challenges. But district officials said they believe the recently approved measure will help attract more applicants to the applicant pool, increase their chances of filling unfilled jobs and add back routes that were otherwise needed significantly. .

“I think that’s something we’re going to have to do. I don’t think we really have a choice,” board member Jamie Bond said. “I think it’s gotten to the point where we’re desperate.”

People also read…

Other challenges the district has faced include employing seven transport technicians as drivers, an additional function that officials say takes these employees away from primary bus repair and maintenance responsibilities. They said the lingering issue also poses challenges for sports and field outings.

The recently approved measure converts the 10 part-time jobs into what MCPS calls 6.5-hour full-time positions. Each of these positions will come with benefits including the option of health and life insurance. Jobs, however, will not qualify for Virginia Retirement System benefits.

The typical district bus driver contract is 4.5 hours a day, school system spokeswoman Brenda Drake said.

Expectations for 6.5-hour drivers will include one hour in the garage per day to perform tasks such as cleaning and refueling spare buses and washing vehicles as they come into service, according to district officials, the tasks will allow technicians to continue working on repair and maintenance. .

Additionally, school officials said the move would eliminate the growing need for sports drivers and field trips.

The estimated cost of the recently approved conversion of the 10 bus driver positions is $90,000 – or $9,000 for each employee’s health insurance, depending on the plan.

District officials said they believe they have the necessary funds to cover additional benefit costs due to savings on unfilled bus driver positions so far this year.

School officials said they will assess the impact of the change by February. They said they will determine by then whether the change is working and make recommendations on whether a permanent position change is appropriate and whether additional full-time positions are needed.

Bus run times, however, are not higher at this time and the district is working to ensure the longest run is under an hour, Drake said.

Leave a Reply