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How Richmond Public schools are dealing with school bus driver shortage

RICHMOND, Va. -- Students across central Virginia have been back in school for a month now, but parents continue to reach out to the CBS 6 Problem Solvers about school bus issues.

For Sherita Johnson, anyone getting behind the wheel of a school bus to drive her two children and others to school, has a tall order on their hands.

She understands the importance and difficulty of their job.

“I think it’s a big responsibility. They have to make sure people’s kids are safe. They gotta look at the road and they gotta pay attention to the kids on the bus,” said Johnson.

Johnson knows the bus driver shortage in Richmond Public Schools is causing issues, leaving parents and students flustered.

“In the beginning (school year), its always an issue. They are never there on time,” said Johnson.

In an upcoming meeting, transportation officials will brief RPS school board members about how the shortage is impacting the routes, citing low pay and lack of benefits as major challenges.

Ten Richmond schools have buses that make double runs. Greene Elementary has the most double runs with six, and even has two buses that make triple runs.

“I think that they deserve more money so that they can want to do the position,” said Johnson.

CBS 6 Problem Solvers reached out to RPS about the shortage. School officials say they are in need of 12 school bus drivers.

Spokeswoman Kentia Bowers released a statement that read:

“While RPS is experiencing a shortage in bus drivers, just as most school districts are in the state, we will continue our recruitment efforts and have a few training classes for bus drivers that are set to graduate soon that should help alleviate the shortage. Our biggest gap remains in trying to hire substitute drivers.”

School leaders say the district has budgeted for 25 substitute bus driver positions, but they have yet to fill any of those slots.

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