TOWSON, MD—Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski and Baltimore County Public Schools Superintendent Darryl Williams on Tuesday announced a plan to boost recruitment and retention of school bus drivers amid a nationwide shortage of bus drivers.
“I know Baltimore County families are relieved to have their children back in school buildings full time this year, but they also deserve to know that there is a safe, reliable way for their kids to travel to and from school,” Olszewski said. “The steps we’re taking in partnership with the school system help ensure we continue to provide this critical service in communities across Baltimore County.”
“BCPS is pleased to provide incentives and increased compensation for our staff who engage in mission critical work like transporting our students to and from school, providing nutritious meals and ensuring our facilities are prepared to receive students and staff every day,” Superintendent Darryl Williams said. “This would not be possible without the support of our Board of Education and the county government and we are grateful for their collaboration and commitment to Team BCPS.”
Under the plan, BCPS will provide recruitment and retention incentives to all AFCME (American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees) employees, including bus drivers. These incentives include:
- $250 sign-on bonus
- $250 employee referral incentive
- $50 monthly attendance reward for on-time attendance every day
- Retention bonus of up to $1,000
As a result of the bus driver shortage, drivers have been taking on additional routes during their standby time. BCPS will use funding from the American Rescue Plan to provide drivers with shift differential pay of $2 per hour.
In addition, Baltimore County government will use ARP funding to cover the costs of fingerprinting for bus driver and attendant applicants – a cost that was previously passed on to potential employees and could cost as much as $100.
The County will also cover the costs of physical exams and drug testing required by the Maryland Department of Transportation, as well as the cost of sleep apnea testing for designated candidates. Physical exam and drug testing fees can range from $160 to $220, and sleep apnea testing costs an average of $1,151 per test.
In addition, the County has facilitated an expansion of the list of eligible medical providers to provide pre-employment physicals.
Officials say this expansion should reduce a backlog that has caused long wait times for applicants awaiting a physical.
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