ANNAPOLIS, Md. – The Board of Education of Anne Arundel County tonight approved a plan put forth by Superintendent George Arlotto requesting more than $7.4 million in a recurring supplemental operating budget request from the Anne Arundel County Government for funds sufficient for Anne Arundel County Public Schools’ school transportation contractors to provide every one of their school bus drivers and bus attendants with a $5 per hour wage increase subject to contract modifications.
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.
“County Executive Pittman has been clear that the County stands ready to assist our school system in solving this issue, which has been decades in the making,” Board of Education President Melissa Ellis said. “I take him at his word and believe he will do just that. I am hoping this funding will be approved as soon as possible so that we can get it to our current and future bus drivers and attendants and, in turn, provide our students and families the transportation services they need.”
The funding would also cover increases for AACPS-employed drivers and attendants, pending the outcome of negotiations with the applicable bargaining unit, as a step toward addressing long-standing compensation and staffing issues exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and the current national bus driver shortage.
Additionally, the package also contemplates reaching agreement with contractors on compensating bus drivers and attendants for a full eight-hour work day.