Wednesday, May 18, 2022

WJCC Schools Approves $1.1M Transportation Contract In Response to Bus Driver Shortage

WJCC school buses will get an upgrade this November with the launch of the tracking app "Here Comes the Bus." (Steve Roberts, Jr./WYDaily)
Local school districts are facing a bus driver shortage, leading WJCC to suggest another alternative. (Steve Roberts, Jr./WYDaily)

HISTORIC TRIANGLE — In response to a crippling bus driver shortage, Williamsburg-James City County Schools (WJCC) is entering a contract with ALC Schools LLC for the upcoming academic year.

The School Board unanimously approved the $1.1 million cooperative transportation contract at a special-called meeting Tuesday night.

ALC Schools LLC provides services for students identified as having special transportation needs, such as those with disabilities or experiencing homelessness. With this contract approval, the division will move to alternative busing options, which include contracting drivers through ALS Schools.

The additional resources the division utilizes from the company will only be for a select number of students, specifically, those with disabilities and who are facing homelessness.

The contract also allows the division to use the WJCC bus drivers that were assigned to out of zone routes to be used for grades kindergarten through twelfth grade (K-12) zoned routes.

RELATED STORY: Local School Districts Respond to Bus Driver Shortages as School Year Nears

Discussion regarding the need for adequate transportation began during a July 17 work session for the board. 

Chief Financial Officer, Rene Ewing, requested a budget transfer of $800,000. Funding for the contract would come partially from operation funds and partially from transportation salaries and benefits for 25 vacant FTEs that would be converted to the contract.

In addition, transfer funds would include $50,000 from the division’s fuel account and the remaining $250,000 would be included in a grant request to the American Rescue Plan grant.

Ewing said the Department of Education confirmed the grant request is allowed and would be permitted. The division plans to submit the grant request later in August.

Jim Kelly, Chair of the School Board, said during the meeting that they thought the decision on the contract could wait until the Aug. 3 board meeting, however, that meeting would be three weeks before the beginning of the school year.

“There is a need to communicate with parents who will be involved by the change in transportation,” Olwen Herron, superintendent said after Kelly.

She added the contract necessitates a minor change in the bell schedules, and families involved in the changes will get a personal phone call from a division representation.

The School Board will host its next meeting at 6:30 p.m. Aug. 3 at the School Board and Central Office building, located at 117 Ironbound Road. To watch the special call meeting, click here.

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