TOWSON, Md. — Baltimore County is following suit in efforts to boost recruitment and retention of school bus drivers amid a nationwide shortage.
On Tuesday, Schools Superintendent Darryl Williams and County Executive Johnny Olszewski announced plans to offer drivers new financial incentives.
The plan calls for new drivers to receive a $250 sign-on bonus. Under the new plan, those who referred a new hire could get an additional $250.
In Focus: Bus Driver Wages
An extra $50 will be given to drivers with perfect monthly attendance. Work is underway to pay existing drivers a $1000 retention bonus, during winter and spring break.
Using the American Rescue Plan funds, bus drivers would also receive a $2 hourly increase in shift differential. On top of that, full-time drivers will see a two percent Cost-of-Living Adjustment added January 1.
The county intends to put those federal dollars towards the costs of fingerprints, physical exams, and drug testing that is required for new hires.
Such tests can sometimes reach the thousands.
Pre-employment physicals are facing a current backlog, delaying new hires.
To help speed that up, the county is expanding the list of eligible medical providers to give those exams.
The county's plan comes with an estimated $5.2 million price tag, and follows Anne Arundel County's announcement to raise bus driver pay.
MORE: Anne Arundel County to offer new financial bonuses to school bus drivers and aides
Several school districts throughout the state have struggled this year to provide students with transportation, due to union strikes and mass call-outs.
The full announcement can be watched below.