Harford County Tackles Bus Driver Shortage, Boosts School Security For New Academic Year


The first day of school celebration at Forest Hill Elementary. (Credit: Harford County Public Schools/ Facebook)

HARFORD COUNTY - Harford County Public Schools kicked off the 2023-24 academic year on Monday with a full roster of bus drivers and increased school security measures, thanks to proactive steps taken by County Executive Bob Cassilly and local officials.

The first day of school at Forest Hill Elementary was marked by a warm reception for students. Faculty and community members greeted them with claps, high-fives, and positive messages for the year ahead.

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Upon arrival, students were treated to a festive atmosphere, complete with balloons, bubbles, and music. Pets on Wheels provided six therapy dogs for the event - part of the school's ongoing commitment to improving mental health.

Addressing concerns of a potential bus driver shortage that surfaced over the summer, the county executive's office coordinated efforts with the school system and private bus contractors to ensure routes were staffed. According to HCPS, all bus driver positions were successfully filled by opening day.

The county executive's office also addressed the significant shortage of School Resource Officers (SROs) in the Aberdeen area. Following a meeting between Cassilly, Superintendent Bulson, the mayor of Aberdeen, and law enforcement officials, the Harford County Sheriff's Office was authorized to hire four additional SROs, bolstering school safety.

HCPS had nine teacher vacancies, eight substitute bus driver vacancies, and 11 bus attendant vacancies as of Aug. 17, the Baltimore Sun reports. An additional four vacancies in food and nutrition, 28 custodial vacancies, and numerous part-time vacancies also remain.

"When there's a problem in Harford County, especially when it involves our students and public safety, we work together to solve it," Cassilly said. "I would like to thank Harford County Public Schools, Aberdeen Mayor Patrick McGrady, and our partners in law enforcement for working together for a safe and successful beginning to the new school year."

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