A national shortage of school bus drivers has hit Anne Arundel County Public Schools in Maryland particularly hard, prompting school leaders to spread transportation resources to reach more students.
Superintendent Mark Bedell announced the new plan during Tuesday’s meeting of the county’s Board of Education, although he acknowledged that it is more of a “Band-Aid approach” than a permanent fix.
Watch the board meeting:
“This is not a cure for families,” Bedell said. “It is a temporary solution.”
Bedell said that the school system has identified 40 buses that can make an additional run during their day, either to a middle school in the morning or to an elementary school in the afternoon.
“Our team is in the process now of determining exact routes that could benefit from this,” Bedell said.
The new routes are expected to be implemented by Oct. 17.
“This arrangement will allow, for example, for a family with an elementary school student to know that the student will be taken home from school on a bus in the afternoon,” he said. “The same would be true for a middle school student being taken to school in the morning.”
Transportation issues have plagued the county over the past year, with many buses arriving late or not at all.
“This is affecting student learning,” said Anne Arundel County Council of PTAs President Mallory LaFon.
In some cases the problem has left students with no transportation options, causing them to miss classes.
“Schools hit the hardest by busing issues are those that need transportation the most,” LaFon said. “There must be a solution.”
Last year, county leaders announced that new and existing school bus drivers were on track to receive $5,000 bonuses as officials aimed to address the shortage.
The $4.2 million plan to offer the retention and hiring bonuses was announced by Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman and the Anne Arundel Workforce Development Corporation.
The bonuses were paid in three installments through the end of the school year in June 2022.