The Baltimore City school district is offering parents a $250 stipend to transport their own children to school for September amid a bus driver shortage.
When the school year began two weeks ago parents had to unexpectedly figure out how to get their children to school after 30 bus drivers called out on the first day leaving approximately 300 students stranded at the bus stop.
Due to this bus driver shortage, Baltimore City Public Schools (BCPS) has sent a $250 stipend offer to almost 800 parents.
Students must have a 95% attendance rate to qualify for the payment, according to a reimbursement form sent to parents.
The city school district uses outside contractors to provide transportation services for students. Among those are students who have an Individualized Education Program (IEP), that requires the school district to provide transportation to and from school.
The school district is currently finding alternative options for how students can be transported to school. They are working with taxi companies to get drivers to come back and drive for city schools and holding certification classes to get drivers ready as quickly as possible. They are also looking into other state approved vehicles that can transport children and possibly changing bus routes.
The bus driver shortage did not come as a surprise as Maryland, like many other states, has been experiencing a labor shortage since businesses reopened and pandemic restrictions lifted. At the beginning of August Baltimore City held a job fair to hire as many bus drivers as possible for the influx of students that would be returning to school this Fall.
At the beginning of August, Baltimore City Schools Chief Operating Officer Lynette Washington spoke about the driver shortage and how they would do the best that they could to get students to school.
Bus drivers are hard to come by due to competition from other companies that pay more.
Other school districts are facing the same problems. Fairfax County Public School District in Virginia is offering bus drivers a $3,000 sign-on bonus and competitive salary as an incentive to get drivers to apply.
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