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HCPSS Updates Transportation Bus Contracts Agreement

November 23rd, 2021

On Thursday, Nov. 18, 2021, the Howard County Board of Education took action to begin addressing the bus driver shortage that has impacted HCPSS since the beginning of the school year. At its meeting Nov. 18, the Board approved an amendment to the bus transportation contracts to provide hiring and retention bonus payments for school bus drivers and attendants.

On Tuesday, Nov. 23, the Board took further action to make sure the contract amendment covers the payroll cost bus contractors must pay for the bonuses given to bus drivers and attendants. The Board agreed to increase the bonus payment overhead cost rate provided to contractors from 10 to 25 percent. It was determined that this increase is necessary to cover the customary fixed business costs for payroll such as FICA (social security), Medicare and other state and federal insurance requirements. These costs are not determined by the contractors.

As part of last week’s action, current bus drivers and attendants will receive a total of $5,000 in one-time incentives. Additionally, newly hired drivers and attendants will receive a $1,500 signing bonus and up to a total of $2,500 in monthly incentive payments. Bus contractors will receive $3,000 over three months to help recruit and hire new staff to overcome the current driver shortage. The first retention payments will be issued in December providing existing drivers and attendants $2,750.

While these short-term financial incentives are necessary to remain competitive as many other districts explore similar incentives, the long-term sustainability of transportation operations will require several strategies. HCPSS will work with bus contractors to examine the feasibility of increasing bus driver pay and benefits to support the recruitment and retention of high-quality bus drivers.

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