BCPS Bus Transportation County Council talking point

BALTIMORE — Dr. Darryl Williams, Superintendent of Public Schools for Baltimore County, gave a 20-minute presentation on planned school bus improvements to the county board.

The impetus for this discussion, being a letter sent by several board members to the superintendent out of concern for a BCPS request to move $5 million from the transportation budget to other parts of the budget, despite the transportation problem.

Williams, in her presentation, outlined several programs to address some of the issues parents and students are having this year with public transportation to schools.

These included increasing driver pay, adding part-time driver crews, better communication technology, and adding an attendance incentive for drivers.

Council member Cathy Bevins, who represents District 6, publicly commented in the virtual reunion chat room “I’m done with the dog and pony show!!!” during Williams’ presentation.

These solutions are based on the results of an efficiency survey that was distributed to various groups, including drivers, managers, unions and student leaders.

One of the biggest challenges facing the school district was calls, vacancies, and extended leaves — accounting for an average of 26 percent of the remaining routes to be covered on any given day.

“I am happy to continue, as I said earlier, [with the County Council]“, said Dr. Williams.

District 7 Council Member Todd Crandell expressed frustration that it felt like this process had started late because, he said, it has been a problem all year.

Crandell and Bevins also disputed Williams’ accusation in a letter responding to several Council members that it was an “election ploy.”

Williams responded later in the meeting to Bevins about the election-year comment, saying these issues are significant and multi-year and that this issue has raised an unexpected sense of urgency.

“We are in this pandemic, recovering, and we want to show progress,” he told Council members, adding that this meeting was specifically aimed at addressing the transportation issue.

“The biggest piece is more and more conversations [with the Council]”Williams said.

Jessica C. Bell