APS News Release

APS Statement on Bus Driver Concerns

Our drivers and attendants are valued members of the APS team. We have taken many steps to address the concerns of some of our drivers regarding compensation, culture and climate, and we continue working with our transportation team to ensure we retain excellent school bus drivers in Arlington.

There is a lot of misinformation about our efforts to support bus drivers, specifically related to the topic of summer school bonuses and compensation. Important information to know:

SUMMER SCHOOL BONUS: This was a one-time incentive to recruit teachers for the in-person summer school program. Only T-scale and A-scale staff were eligible for that as part of our incentive program to recruit more teachers. These bonuses were not promised to any other employees.

  • Teachers are 10-month employees and there is no requirement to staff summer school. Drivers are 11-month employees and are already contracted to support summer school.
  • The bonus program for teachers was communicated to all staff multiple times in April:

Summer School Pay Incentives  We are committed to providing full in-person and full-time distance learning summer school programs for summer 2021. To ensure we have excellent teachers and staff available for the summer school program, we will provide a bonus for summer school teachers and assistants who are reporting in person this summer. More about the bonuses:

These bonuses will equal $1,000 for T-scale employees who report in-person for the entire summer, and $500 for assistants who report in-person for the entire summer. Bonuses will be prorated for employees who work in a job-sharing capacity this summer. For instance, a T-scale employee who works for half of the summer school session would receive a $500 bonus.  

BONUS: The School Board approved a $1,000 bonus for full-time employees and a prorated amount for part-time/hourly staff on Nov. 16. Bonuses will be delivered on Dec. 6 to employees hired on or before Nov. 1, 2021. Drivers will receive this.

COMPENSATION: APS compensation for bus drivers is competitive with the other local school divisions, and APS increased driver compensation in FY2022, and in the FY218, FY19 and FY20 budgets.

  • The FY22 budget provided a 2% COLA for drivers along with the eligibility of receiving a step increase in early 2022, like all other employees as noted in the approved FY2022 budget.
  • No employee group received a COLA or step during FY2021; however, drivers and attendants received a 1% increase each year for 3 years – FY18, FY19, and FY20 for a total of 12.2%.
  • Bus driver compensation range:
  • Arlington Public Schools – $21.59 – 35.60
  • Alexandria City Public Schools – $20.70 – 34.22
  • Fairfax County Public Schools – $22.92 – 35.35
  • Falls Church City Public Schools – $20.01 – $36.26
  • Loudoun County Public Schools – $22.16 – 38.51
  • Prince William County Public Schools – $19.53 – 38.79

MORE HOURS: APS is beginning the Budget Process for the next fiscal year, which will include a review of hours, pay rates, and compensation for all staff. Compensation is the priority in the upcoming budget cycle as it was in the previous budget.

  • In that process, we will review the hours and pay rates for all drivers; we cannot make changes apart from that process as it impacts other pay scales within transportation and the decisions are made in the budget cycle.
  • Not all drivers and attendants want increased hours, as some of them work other jobs during the “down time” between morning and afternoon runs.

CLIMATE: We understand some drivers have concerns about the work culture and climate, and that is something we take very seriously.Some immediate steps taken, and next steps include:

  • Transportation directors and HR are working with staff on addressing their concerns through a workplace climate assessment. In Aug. 2021, APS held focus groups of bus drivers, attendants, and other staff as a first step to identify and address their concerns.
  • We are working to address parking concerns, as parking is tight at our transportation lot due to the number of buses we have. APS has secured 90 spots in Arlington County’s garage across the street. In previous years, these spots were assigned by seniority and the time routes are scheduled to leave the yard. Based on feedback from drivers, HR conducted a lottery for those spots. Additional spots are located at the Barcroft Sports Complex on Four Mile Run Drive. Transportation provides three shuttles in the morning/afternoon to bring staff from Barcroft to the bus lot and back in the afternoon.
  • Transportation leadership will undergo leadership development training in December. Additional training to drivers and attendants will be providing during the spring of 2022.