In an effort to alleviate the bus driver shortage in Howard, and many jurisdictions in Maryland, the county public school system is holding a bus driver hiring fair Friday in Columbia.
On Sept. 2, the end of the first week of classes for Howard students, there were 96 bus driver openings, meaning the system had only about 80% of the more than 400 drivers necessary to cover all of the routes, according to the school system. When Superintendent Michael Martirano updated the Board of Education during a recent meeting, he said the system was still facing 95 vacancies as of Oct. 4.
“We need help and we are asking our community to rally around. And if individuals are looking for employment, there is a place in the Howard County Public School System for you,” Martirano said during the Oct. 5 school board meeting.
The hiring fair will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday in the cafeteria at Wilde Lake High School, 5460 Trumpeter Road in Columbia. Face masks will be required at the fair, and they also are required while on school buses.
Since the beginning of the school year, buses have been running double routes for some schools, picking up and dropping off students in groups, according to the school system. At the beginning of the school year, Martirano said the school system was using doubled routes on 95 routes to maximize usage of its current drivers.
In late August, the school system partnered with the Regional Transportation Agency of Central Maryland to provide free access to public transportation for all county middle and high public school students through next September. Though they are not intended to take the place of school buses, the school system said, both Martirano and County Executive Calvin Ball have said they hoped the passes would help address student transportation concerns.
In order to be considered for a bus driver position with the school system, applicants must:
- Be at least 21 years old
- Have a clean driving record and no criminal background
- Pass a physical and drug screening examination
- Possess a commercial drivers license with a passenger and school bus endorsement (the school system provides the behind-the-wheel instruction to acquire this license and necessary endorsements)
- Complete an 18-hour pre-service training program for certification in Howard County provided by the system’s Pupil Transportation Office
- Be willing to work 180 days a year and be off during the summer months (possible summer work is available)
Martirano said attendees will be able to interview with bus contractors — independent contractors provide student transportation for the Howard County Public School System — at the event and “potentially be hired on the spot.”
No registration is required, and attendees are encouraged to bring a resume and a complete driving record from the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration.
More information is available online at hcpss.org/employment/school-bus-driver-vacancies.