Home National Weather Anne Arundel County school system anticipates fall bus driver shortage – Baltimore Sun

Anne Arundel County school system anticipates fall bus driver shortage – Baltimore Sun

by DrewLUD

Anne Arundel County Public Schools anticipates between 45 and 50 driver vacancies among bus routes next school year, similar to where the system ended this school year, interim Superintendent Monique Jackson told the Board of Education Wednesday.

Thousands of students last year were affected by late bus service, and in many cases no bus service at all. The disruptions were caused by a driver shortage, which AACPS says is a national problem. The system has been working with contractors to fill empty jobs.

Each Wednesday the system will post updates on its website about the status of bus drivers, crossing guards and other positions they are desperate to fill , along with information on waitlists for Recreation and Parks childcare programs. Jackson said challenges like the national shortage of bus drivers are out of their control, but that doesn’t mean they can’t do anything.

“What is not outside of our control is the ability of every single school system employee, elected officials and community members to ask themselves whether they or someone they know can help,” she said.

In both cases, AACPS isn’t directly hiring to fill vacancies. The system hires a number of private contractors to provide bus service, and those businesses are recruiting. The Anne Arundel County Police Department hires for and runs the crossing guard program.

The system is continuing to speak with the bus contractors andwill have a more accurate number of vacancies in the coming weeks, Jackson said.

Some board members sought to hold an additional meeting before Aug. 19, to get more details on how many drivers and crossing guards will be out on the first day of classes. The board was evenly split on the vote for a special August meeting, so the motion failed.

The board will meet on Aug. 24. The 2022-23 school year starts on Aug 29.

The system is changing school start times this year. All high schools will start at 8:30 a.m., elementary schools will open at 8 a.m. and middle schools will open at 9:15 a.m. Overall, the window to pick up and drop off students has been condensed, but the system said the time change is not exacerbating driver vacancies.

Parents testified Wednesday asking the board to delay the start time changes, which has created child care issues for parents. Last month, the Anne Arundel County Council approved a resolution in June urging similar action.

District 7 Board member Michelle Corkadel said south county is a childcare desert, and in need of more direct support ahead of the change, and parents choose between jobs and taking care of kids.

“The few places we had childcare are gone, they’re not returning,” she said.

District 3 Board member Corine Frank said right now the board doesn’t know how many intersections will be uncovered by crossing guards, but in June they were told more than 100.

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“That in my mind is imperative to be addressed. And I don’t want to wait a week before school starts,” she said.

The board failed to follow through on a related motion made in 2021, Frank said, which called for the Citizen Advisory Committee to create a subcommittee to examine the phase two findings of Prismatic, a consultant that group that has advised the system on transportation efficiency ahead of the time change.

Others disagreed with the proposal for an August meeting, saying it was an opportunity to reverse the system’s plan to change school start times. District 5 Member Dana Schallheim said tens of thousands of families have already made adjustments, along with businesses and employees.

“Yes, there are challenges. But there would be challenges if we stayed with the status quo, too,” Schallheim said.

District 4 Board Member Melissa Ellis said the board will continue to receive updates on transportation issues before the start of the school year, and can call a special session at any point if those updates reveal significant concerns. A special meeting would raise the expectation of a major action, which would be irresponsible, she said.

“If I have a light bulb, something the board can do to support this work, I’m going to reach out to Dr. Tobin and request a special session, and I encourage any of my colleagues to do the same,” she said. “But right now we need to not get in the way.”

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Source: Baltimore Sun