Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman and the Anne Arundel Workforce Development Corp. (AAWDC) announced retention and new hire bonuses for contracted school bus drivers and aides, a local approach to solving the national driver shortage. The bonuses provide an immediate solution to challenges faced by school bus contractors in recruiting and retaining staff.

“We can’t continue leaving kids stranded and parents’ work schedules disrupted due to a national shortage of school bus drivers,” said County Executive Pittman. “Dedicating $4.2 million of our county’s federal recovery funds to these bonuses is the right thing to do for parents and their kids.”

School bus drivers will receive $5,000 retention or new hire bonuses, while aides will receive $2,000 retention or new hire bonuses. The bonuses will be paid via contracts between AAWDC and school bus contractors, giving the companies an added carrot as they seek to compete with other jurisdictions and private entities like Amazon for staff.

By using a portion of the County’s American Rescue Plan funds, the money will reach drivers faster while coming in at a lower cost than the request last month by Anne Arundel County Public Schools (AACPS). The Board of Education’s request was submitted to the County Council as Bill 88-21. County Executive Pittman’s plan for retention and new hire bonuses will cost $4.2 million, less than half of the $9.7 million total price tag of the Board’s initial request. As a result, the legislation containing the appropriation request will be withdrawn.

“The bonus structure will give the contractors flexibility in the recruitment and retention process,” Anne Arundel Workforce Development Corporation President and CEO Kirkland Murray said. “We know it’s a very competitive environment for bus drivers at a local and national level right now, and these bonuses provide a tool for the contractors to put and keep staff in place.”

The bonuses will be paid to drivers and aides in three installments:

Retention ($5,000 Drivers/$2,000 Aides)

  • $2,500/$1,000 immediately when the program starts and contracts are completed with their respective employer.
  • $500/$200 on the first pay date in March 2022.
  • $2,000/$800 on the last pay date of the school year in June 2022.

New Hire ($5,000 Drivers/$2,000 Aides)

  • $2,500/$1,000 after the first week working an AACPS bus route.
  • $500/$200 after 90 days of working.
  • $2,000/$800 on the last pay date of the school year in June 2022.

Payments will begin reaching contracted drivers and aides in the coming weeks, once AAWDC finalizes contracts with individual bus contractors.