Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) is experiencing interruptions in school bus services. For the past two school days, about 25 percent of the CCPS contracted school buses were not in operation on Charles County roads. This has led CCPS to ask parents and families to make backup or alternative arrangements for their children to get to and from school.
CCPS contracts with 26 independently owned bus companies with contractors who provide bus services for the school system. There are 280 buses that serve a total of 718 routes in Charles County, as well as provide for out-of-county transportation of students in specialized programs.
One bus may provide service for up to four schools. Contractors as well as CCPS transportation staff are covering as many routes as possible but are not able to cover every route without an adequate number of bus drivers. CCPS is posting transportation updates on its website at ccboe.com. Updates are shared with parents and community members as they are received by staff. Additionally, CCPS is not always made aware in advance of a driver who does not show up for a route.
On Friday, Oct. 22, 2021, a total of 74 school buses did not operate which left 186 routes without drivers and bus service. This means 26 percent of routes did not run. A total of 37 CCPS schools were affected by the driver call-outs on Friday. A total of 14 CCPS contracted bus companies experienced at least one driver who did not report to work on Friday.
Today, Monday, Oct. 25, 2021, a total of 59 school buses did not operate which left 157 routes without drivers and bus service. Today, 22 percent of routes did not run. The same 37 schools were affected by the driver call-outs today. A total of 12 CCPS contracted bus companies experienced at least one driver who did not report to work today.
A group of Charles County bus drivers and attendants participated in a protest at the CCPS administrative offices this morning. Superintendent of Schools Maria Navarro talked with those who gathered about setting up a meeting as early as tomorrow to follow up with their concerns.
CCPS will continue to share any bus service interruptions with the Charles County community at ccboe.com.
Bus contract, agreements with CCPS
Bus contractors sign annual agreements with CCPS. A copy of a master school bus service contract is posted on the school system website at https://www.ccboe.com/transportation/?page_id=1127. A signed contract is good for one year and addresses driver and attendant salaries, health and retirement benefits, as well as driver and attendant personal/sick leave.
Drivers and attendants are not CCPS employees; they are employed by independent bus companies that provide transportation services to CCPS. However, benefits negotiated through CCPS and the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) union for various CCPS employees also affect bus drivers and attendants.
When a cost-of-living adjustment, or COLA, is negotiated by CCPS and AFSCME, CCPS bus drivers and attendants also receive the increase.
Driver, attendant salaries
The base hourly rate for a CCPS driver with one to four years of experience is $20.12. A 25 percent fixed charge amount is added to the driver and attendant hourly rate paid to the independent bus companies to cover worker’s compensation, social security, Maryland unemployment, federal unemployment, and payroll compensation for the drivers and attendants.
The base hourly rate for a certified CCPS attendant with one to four years of experience is $14.78.
Hourly pay rate charts are located on Page 8 of the CCPS rate schedule posted online here.
Driver, attendant benefits
Drivers and attendants who are employed full-time as the regular route driver or attendant on a contracted bus route are eligible for benefits. This includes a minimum daily requirement of six hours per day.
Full-time drivers and attendants receive six days of leave, which is paid in full by CCPS. All drivers and attendants employed for more than four years receive one additional day of leave per year at a maximum of 10 days total.
Health and life insurance premiums vary among bus contractors, but CCPS provides the same amount to all contractors. A difference in premiums does not change the cost to a driver or attendant. The cost of these programs is shared by CCPS, the driver, and the contractor. Drivers and attendants are not required to take advantage of benefits; they are available at their choosing.
For health and life insurance benefits, the base premium is $10,000; CCPS pays $6,000; the contractor pays $2,000; and the driver pays $2,000.
For life insurance only, the base premium is $210; CCPS pays $150; the contractor pays $30, and the driver pays $30.
For retirement, the base amount is $650; CCPS pays $487.50; the contractor pays $81.25, and the driver pays $81.25.
A further breakdown of benefits is located on pages 8-10 in the CCPS rate scheduled posted online here.