BALTIMORE — Dr. Darryl Williams, superintendent of Baltimore County Public Schools, gave a 20 minute presentation on the planned improvements to school buses to the County Council.
The impetus for this discussion, being a letter sent by several council members to the Superintendent out of concern for a request from BCPS to move $5 million out of the transportation budget to other parts of the budget, despite the transportation issue.
Williams, in his presentation, described several programs to solve some of the issues that parents and students saw this year with bussing to schools.
These included increasing pay to drivers, adding part-time driver shifts, better communication technology, and adding an attendance incentive for drivers.
Council member Cathy Bevins, who represents District 6, publicly commented in the chatroom of the virtual meeting "I'm over the dog & pony show!!!" during Williams' presentation.
These solutions are based on results from an efficiency survey that was distributed to different groups including drivers, principals, unions and student leadership.
One of the biggest challenges that the school district faced was callouts, vacancies and extended leave - accounting for an average of 26% routes being left needing to be covered on a given day.
"I'm happy to follow up, as I said earlier, [with the County Council]," said Dr. Williams.
Council member Todd Crandell, of District 7, expressed his frustration that he felt that this process was late getting started as, he stated, this has been an issue all year.
Crandell and Bevins also took issue with the accusation from Williams in a letter response to several Council members that this was an "election ploy."
Williams responded later in the meeting to Bevins about the election year comment, saying that these issues are big, and multi-year issues and this issue came up with an unexpected sense of urgency.
"We are in this pandemic, recovering, and we want to show some progress," he told Council members, adding that this meeting was specifically to address the transportation issue.
"The bigger piece, is more and more conversations [with the Council]," Williams said.