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Bus driver shortage won't stop Anne Arundel high schools later start times

Bus driver shortage won't stop high schools from starting later this fall
Posted at 6:52 PM, Jul 29, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-29 18:52:13-04

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Pushing back the start-up time for high school students in Anne Arundel County to start classes may be pushing a limited number of school bus drivers to the brink, according to County Executive Steuart Pittman.

“I’m concerned about having enough drivers to be able to get the kids to school,” said Pittman. “I mean we saw what happened last year. There were not enough.”

Pittman directed a letter to the Board of Education weeks ago asking it to put off the new start-up time until next year, but with the academic achievement fall off from the pandemic and its impact on students’ mental health, the school board isn’t backing off on its bid to let high school students get more sleep.

“The data are clear that one of the most immediate things we can do to address both of those problems is to have the change in school hours,” said School Board President Dr. Joanna Bache Tobin.

Originally, Tobin said the board wanted to institute the new start-up times for high schools coming out of the winter break, but it delayed it, saying it wasn’t the right time.

Beginning in June, the board had its transportation team and its consultants start running the routes with school bus contractors to get them ironed out when school starts back up again next month.

“We want to make sure by the time they’re set, we know exactly what’s going to work and what’s not going to work,” said Tobin.

In the meantime, the system is still trying to hire more drivers at a time when there is a shortage of them across the nation.

“I’m not continuing to beat the drum,” said Pittman. “I think that they’re going to stick with the plan and we’re going to work with them to do all that we can to get the jobs filled.”