The school bus driver shortage in Prince George’s County has forced an elementary school to change its school day.
“Based on the transportation situation, I did what I had to do to meet the instructional day and the needs of my students” said Cecelia Jones-Bowlding, principal at Glenarden Woods Elementary School in Lanham. “We still have a lack of bus drivers getting students here on time.”
Jones-Bowlding would not comment on the specific changes she has made, referring all questions to Thomas Bishop, the county’s transportation director.
But a parent said most buses arrive to school about 10 to 15 after 9:15 a.m., which is the scheduled start of school. Officials decided to adjust the school day by reducing the time for lunch and recess, instead of taking time away from classes. For weeks, school has started at 9:30 a.m.
“I feel supportive of [the principal] because her hands are tied and half her population is coming to school late,” said Kelly Hutchison, whose daughter is in fourth grade at the school. “I feel she is dealing with it very positively.”
In August, Prince George’s implemented a transportation policy that among many things reduced the systems fleet by 130 buses, consolidated bus routes and cut the number of stops by 2,350.
Bishop said during a presentation before the county council that drivers were running additional routes to cover the shortage. He said late arrivals should end when more drivers are on board. This month, the school system hired 40 more drivers, who are being trained.