Yesterday, the Anne Arundel County Board of Education approved $7.4 million budget plan proposed by Superintendent George Arlotto to increase bus driver pay and provide other incentives in an attempt to address the current shortage.
As Anne Arundel County continues to face school bus driver shortages and labor challenges, the County Board of Education is moving on a plan to utilize American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to attract and retain drivers. Central to the plan is a $5 per hour wage increase subject to contract modifications for the county’s Public Schools’ school transportation contractors, including bus drivers and attendants.
According to an Anne Arundel Board of Education press release:
The plan, which will now be forwarded to County Executive Steuart Pittman, also includes an additional $2.0 million in American Rescue Plan (ARP) funding to provide for $2,000 signing bonuses to attract new bus drivers and attendants and retention bonuses for existing drivers and attendants, to be paid in installments over the course of the school year. The first installment of the bonuses would be paid immediately, with the second and third installments paid across the remainder of the school year using County ARP funding. The plan was developed in consultation with the Anne Arundel County Workforce Development Corporation.
The request would have to be formally approved by the County Council, but the County Executive can agree to disburse the ARP funding for recruitment and retention bonuses immediately without Council approval.
Anne Arundel County is just one of many jurisdictions in the state facing school bus driver shortages due to the ongoing COVID pandemic and a shifting labor environment. In fact, earlier this school year Governor Hogan directed the Maryland Department of Transportation Motor Vehicle Administration (MDOT MVA) to streamline testing and credential processes for school bus drivers across the state, in an attempt to lessen the statewide shortage.
Previous Conduit Street coverage on the state’s School bus driver shortage: