Prince George’s Co. schools to pay drivers for extra routes amid labor shortage

The Prince George’s County school system is temporarily changing how it compensates its bus drivers.

A shortage of more than 200 bus operators in Maryland’s second-largest school district led to existing staff having to pick up additional routes — without the extra pay.

School transportation supervisor Carl Schuettler told WTOP’s news partner NBC Washington that administrators had hoped to weather the labor shortage under the old system.

“Originally, the expectation was, ‘Hey, you’re already working during those hours, so can you please help us out,'” Schuettler said. “We realized that wasn’t as successful as we would have wished.”

After pushback from staff, the school system emailed drivers telling them they would implement a consistent payment method when drivers double routes that are not part of their daily assignment. Compensation for overtime and extra time, they said, must be provided equitably.

Bus driver Roy Roland noted the update was generally well received by his co-workers.

“When we looked at they email, we were like, ‘OK, they get it,'” Roland said. “Some of us are living paycheck to paycheck and provide for our families.”

Some drivers, however, remain concerned that the adjustment in pay will only pertain to the current academic year.

Prince George’s County Public Schools are continuing to hire bus drivers; another virtual driver job fair will take place 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 29.

Preregistration is required and can be done online.

WTOP’s Alicia Abelson contributed to this report.

Alejandro Alvarez

Alejandro Alvarez joined WTOP as a digital reporter and editor in June 2018. He is a writer and photojournalist focusing on politics, political activism and national affairs, with recent multimedia contributions to Reuters, MSNBC and PBS.

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