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Baltimore County should pay its private school bus contractors | READER COMMENTARY

A Baltimore County school bus travels East on Edmondson Avenue at Dutton Avenue last year. Baltimore County Public Schools has elected not to pay its contracted drivers while schools are empty for the coronavirus outbreak. File.
A Baltimore County school bus travels East on Edmondson Avenue at Dutton Avenue last year. Baltimore County Public Schools has elected not to pay its contracted drivers while schools are empty for the coronavirus outbreak. File.

As president of the Maryland School Bus Contractors Association, I was dismayed to learn of Baltimore County’s refusal to pay its partner school bus contractors past March 13, the last day students attended school in Maryland (“Baltimore County Public Schools decline to pay bus contractors during coronavirus shutdown,” March 26). In these extraordinary times, surrounding jurisdictions are taking measures to maintain a sound student transportation structure so that we may re-engage immediately after this unprecedented interruption.

Counties such as Harford and Carroll are honoring their contracts with their bus contractors, thereby allowing the latter to keep paying their drivers, monitors, office staff and maintenance staff and to maintain their fleets. MSBCA echoes the statements made in the National School Transportation Association’s letter to all U.S. governors earlier this month, specifically calling upon school districts to “continue to pay for pupil transportation funding for a 180-day school year in the event of any reduction of transportation days. These funds are already allocated in State budgets and mechanisms are currently in place to distribute these funds.”

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Our member companies proudly work in concert with Maryland school systems not only to transport our students but to keep them safe and secure. MSBCA thanks the systems that have chosen to honor contracts with their bus contractors and calls upon Baltimore County to do the same.

Steve Nelson, Forest Hill

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The Maryland School Bus Contractors Association represents the companies that contract with school systems in 18 of Maryland’s 24 jurisdictions to own and operate the nearly 3,500 school buses that transport approximately half of the state’s schoolchildren.

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