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Baltimore County Council members call for new leadership at BCPS over late school buses

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BALTIMORE COUNTY PUBLIC SCHOOLS
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The Baltimore County Council laid into school officials again Tuesday over school buses being chronically late.

Democratic Councilwoman Cathy Bevins did not mince words.

“Get it together, find new leadership, do something to make this work,” Bevins exclaimed.

Council members are hearing it from parents about getting short notice about late buses. So when school officials asked for permission to move $5.5 million unspent on salaries in transportation to use elsewhere, that ticked off council members like Democrat Tom Quirk.

“Where this money is coming from, it’s coming from incompetence and coming from the backs of parents and the backs of our students,” Quirk said. “Where is the leadership here? Where is the board of education? Why isn’t the board up in arms demanding change?”

School officials assured council members they heard their frustration and are working to fix the problem.

“It’s number one in our cabinet discussions; it’s number one on our priorities to correct for the rest of this year and going into next year,” said Christopher Hartlove, the chief financial officer for the county schools.

School officials say they are having a hard time hiring enough drivers and that it is a nationwide problem.

Councilwoman Bevins suggested a solution.

“You just pay them a living wage,” she said. “Give them some type of incentive and get these positions filled.”

The council is to vote next week on whether to allow the money to be shifted away from transportation. It is part of a $33 million transfer school officials want to make. Money originally budgeted for teachers, transportation and special education would be shifted to buying textbooks, maintenance and the administration.

Much of the money going to the administration would be spent on technology.

If the school system does not spend the money it is given by the county by June 30, it can’t be carried over to the next fiscal year.

“They cannot spend it without your authority,” County Budget Director Ed Blades told the council.

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