ELLICOTT CITY, MD – Howard County Executive Calvin Ball released the following statement in response to Howard County Public School System’s first week of school bus challenges, delays and temporary route cancellations:
“With the start of the 2023-2024 school year on Monday, August 28th, our Howard County Government team is aware of the widespread school bus challenges, delays and temporary route cancellations associated with the Howard County Public School System (HCPSS). I share in the frustration that too many students, parents and families have experienced with these transportation hurdles.
While the County is a funding partner for HCPSS, the school system is a separate governmental entity, with a separately elected Board of Education. HCPSS has exclusive and sole authority over student transportation services, including school bus routes. Specific concerns regarding delays and temporarily cancelled routes can be directed to: https://www.hcpss.org/schools/transportation/.
Earlier this year, the County fully funded the Board of Education’s transportation budget request for this school year with an $8.2 million increase over last year. Over the last four years, the County has increased HCPSS’s Student Transportation budget by approximately 40 percent over previous years' funding levels.
Throughout the summer, County teams worked hard to complete more than 85 infrastructure projects to improve school walking routes. These projects included crosswalks, sidewalks, ADA ramps, pathways, roadway signage and more. We stand ready to continue to respond to pedestrian safety and access improvements identified in collaboration with our community. In addition, our Howard County Police Department has worked to ensure that every school crossing guard location was fully staffed at the start of the school year. This effort has included an increase of 22 new crossing guards for this school year.
As we navigate these transportation challenges, as a community, I want to thank all the hardworking educators and bus drivers who are working tirelessly to support our students and families this week. While this is a challenging time, please remember to treat them with respect and patience as they work to support the needs of our students.
As your Howard County Executive and as a parent, I too want improved school transportation services to ensure that all our students can safely and efficiently travel to and from their schools.”