March 29, 2023
Annapolis, US 57 F

Arlotto Proposing $5/Hour Increase To All Bus Drivers and Aides, $2K Signing and Retention Bonuses

Superintendent of Schools George Arlotto tonight announced he will ask the Board of Education to approve a $7.4 million FY2022 recurring supplemental operating budget request to the Anne Arundel County Government to provide 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 as part of a comprehensive package aimed at stemming the ongoing bus driver shortage.

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 solving long-standing compensation and staffing issues exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and the current bus driver shortage. Additionally, the package also contemplates reaching agreement with contractors on compensating bus drivers and attendants for a full eight-hour workday.

The announcement comes after the school system’s third round of meetings with representatives of the Anne Arundel County Workforce Development Corporation. County Executive Steuart Pittman took part in a meeting last week with AACPS, bus contractors and other State and County governmental partners to gain valuable information in order to develop the plan, which was further refined today.

“Mr. Pittman’s statement yesterday that our school system has not been working on a plan to address this issue could not have been more incorrect,” Dr. Arlotto said. “We have actively been working on a plan, respecting that our bus services are provided by independent vendors and their employees. The County Executive and his administration have, in fact, been part of those ongoing conversations. What we have come up with at this point will not solve the problem overnight, but it will hasten the day when all of our bus routes are covered for all of our students.”

In addition to the recurring operating budget request for $7.4 million, which can be made available for the bus drivers and attendants upon County Council approval and subsequent contract modifications, the plan also includes:

  • $150,000 for $2,000 signing bonuses to attract new bus drivers and attendants, which can be unilaterally financed though the Anne Arundel County Government’s American Rescue Plan (ARP) funds. Those bonuses could begin to be made available to contractors to hire new drivers immediately upon County approval.
  • $2.0 million for $2,000 retention bonuses for existing drivers and attendants, to be paid in installments over the course of the school year. The first installment would be paid immediately using County ARP funds, with the second and third installments paid across the remainder of the school year using County ARP funding.

“As with the many other laudable initiatives that the County Executive has already authorized to support local businesses, families and the workforce, it makes perfect sense to similarly utilize County funds that are immediately available and that can be unilaterally dispensed by the County without any additional approvals from the State or Federal governments,” Dr. Arlotto said. “Mr. Pittman has said that time is of the essence and that he is ready and eager to help, so I look forward to his full support of this plan.”

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