County Executive Pittman

County Executive Pittman Says It Could Be Closer To The New Year Before Emergency Supplemental Budget Funding For County Bus Drivers Can Be Available 

Annapolis, MD (Arundel.News & AAFA)- Families of children in Anne Arundel County Public Schools will want to read this report on the status of the County's shortage of transportation to area schools. 

An emergency proposal to solve the transportation issues causing disruptions for local schools and student schedules isn't moving as quickly as advocates had hoped. A multi-million dollar funding proposal presented to the County Council from the County Executive this week calls for a pay increase, including $2,000 bonuses for bus drivers. 

Even if the County Council approves those emergency funds, it could take months before a pay increase for bus drivers contracted by Anne Arundel County Public Schools can be implemented. During a weekly press call Tuesday 10/19, Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman said that the $7.4 million dollars requested by The Board Of Education is needed for the recruitment and retention of bus drivers, "so we can get our kids to school."

Unfortunately, even with an emergency supplemental request for those funds in to the County Council for approval, Pittman conceded that it could be closer to the start of 2022 before drivers see a pay raise telling reporters, "It might be possible to get something going from federal money sooner".  However, the Executive clarified that the release of funds from the emergency supplemental budget request, "is doable, but not guaranteed", by the end of 2021.

In a statement to Arundel.News, Board Of Education President Melissa Ellis confirmed that the proposal won't solve the problem overnight:

"Any plan will still take time to implement and result in more drivers to cover all of our routes and ensure every student is able to safely and reliably get to and from school each day. As Mr. Pittman indicated, time is of the essence."

Prior to Monday's presentation of the funding proposal, Ellis had expressed frustration over what she categorized as the Executive's blaming of the school system and Board Of Education for the driver shortage. In a letter obtained exclusively by Arundel.News, Ellis wrote to Pittman that she felt the plan undercut the Board's authority and forced schools Superintendent Arlotto to release a plan that required more time to study:            

"You say that as our prime funding agency, the County stands ready to assist the school system in making it possible for contractors to pay their drivers more and recruit more of them. Today, you indicated publicly your

delight and interest in a swift implementation upon receiving Dr. Arlotto’s plan. I will take you at your word. However, a social media campaign blaming school administrators for a complex situation that has been years -

decades - in the making, exposing the Board (and thus the County) to potential contract litigation and employment tax liability, and compromising negotiations is not partnering. The best way you can do that is to support a recurring budget supplement as Dr. Arlotto has proposed so that AACPS can work with the contractors to meet our school transportation needs, not just now but long into the future. I trust that we can move past this unfortunate conflict and that you will “step up” with the Board, financially and practically, to help produce long-term solutions for our students and their families."

Read the letter from the BOE President Ellis in the photos.  

The emergency supplemental budget request will go in front of the County Council for a vote sometime in November. If that date is accelerated, we will update that information here on Arundel.News

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