A group of College Park school parents has started an online petition asking the Prince George’s County Board of Education to address the school transportation issue. According to the petition, School-age children are repeatedly left standing at bus stops until well after school has started. The schools do not fully take into consideration these tardies that are not their responsibility.
It looks like these issues are somewhat caused by a school bus driver shortage issue that the PGCPS is experiencing for some time. PGPCPS still needs to hire about 100-150 drivers to fully staff the 97 of the 1,142 routes that don’t currently have assigned drivers. PGCPS is holding bi-weekly job fairs to fill the positions, however, they are fighting an uphill battle to attract candidates who are taking their expertise to Metro or other local school systems. Unfortunately, other neighboring school systems are also facing a driver shortage issue to some degree.
A few months back, the PGCPS CEO Dr. Goldson issued the following statement about the scheduling issues: “Your child’s bus route does not currently have an assigned driver and we are covering the route through other means, including substitute drivers and splitting routes. Unfortunately, there will likely be delayed arrivals and drop-offs until further notice”.
Unfortunately, it’s hard to know how many busses are arriving late in a given period. Last month the Fox5 – D.C. also reported the school system isn’t tracking how many buses are seriously behind schedule.
To fix the problem, the school board has formed a transportation task force that has been meeting monthly. Members are working to develop a plan that would combine routes to offset the driver shortage. An interim report is expected sometime this month. However, by March, the task force is expected to make scheduling recommendations for arrival and departure times, bus driver recruitment and retention and any changes that should be made for the next school year. The full report from the task force is expected to be released by spring break. Dr. Goldson is hoping to have a solution in time to implement for the 2020-21 school year.
Our City Council has limited influence over the PGCPS, however, we can share concerns with them in a letter approved by the Mayor and Council.