Changing School Start Times
The AACPS Task Force continually considered the impact of any change on transportation. Specifically, when discussing each bell time option, the Task Force considered the following:
- How will this change impact the time that students will need to arrive at their bus stop?
- Will this change affect whether or not students are walking in the dark?
- Will this change increase the number of school buses needed?
- If this change will increase the number of school buses needed, do we have the capacity to find and train enough bus drivers to meet this need?
- Will this change increase or decrease the amount of time that a bus has between runs?
- How will this change affect a student's ability to arrive at school for breakfast?
- Will this change disproportionately impact any particular schools/communities?
Anne Arundel County Public Schools transport 57,791 students to and from school each day on 566 buses, which represents almost 73% of all enrolled students. To meet the high bus needs of the county, Anne Arundel County has contracts with competitive transportation vendors around the county who provide the buses. Of the buses used by AACPS:
- 90% of buses used by AACPS (511 buses) are owned by contractors;
- 465 of these contracted buses service regular AACPS elementary, middle and high schools while
- The remaining 46 contracted buses service nonpublic schools and centers.
- 55 buses are owned by AACPS and are primarily used to service Special Education Centers.
The Complexity of AACPS Bus Routes
The majority of buses serve an average of 3-4 “Tiers” every morning and afternoon. This means that after they drop students off at a high school (Tier 1), they transport a new group of students for the middle school (Tier 2) and then make additional runs to get new groups of students to one or more elementary schools (Tiers 3 & 4). However, to ensure that this equipment is used as effectively and efficiently as possible, many buses may serve up to 7 tiers. This includes shuttle service (including transporting students to the Centers of Applied Technology or PVA Studio 39) and noon-time work (including half-day preK and ECI students and work-based special education programs). To see visual representations of the complexity of bus routes and the multiple tiered runs in the Arundel and Meade Clusters, click here.
Currently, all AACPS bus routes are determined by Transportation Specialists. No transportation software is currently used. The Maryland State Department of Education publishes a Factbook annually; included in this book is a section on Maryland Pupil Transportation . Anne Arundel County Public Schools’ per pupil cost to transport our bus riders is compared to other counties’ costs in this Factbook.
AACPS & Bus Contractors
In Fiscal Year 2015, the Transportation Office has a budget of $37.8 million for bus contractors. This cost includes contracts for buses that service general preK-12 students, special education buses, and nonpublic buses.
- The average bus, not including a bus assistant, costs approximately $60,224 each year. This includes the cost for the bus itself, the bus driver, and fuel. The average cost for a bus with an aide (approximately 30% of our buses) is $85,742.
- The bid process for bus contracts occurs from November to February to provide contractors time to prepare for the following school year. Any transportation decisions made after this February deadline will be included in the next years' bid.
- Purchasing additional buses will also require additional parking space to store each new bus. At present, the transportation contractors working with AACPS can hold a total of 123 additional buses. If more buses are required, AACPS will have to find additional parking space.
Facts to Consider when Choosing School Start Times:
- Students should arrive at their bus stop 10 minutes before their bus arrives.
- The majority of regular education students are delivered to and from school within 30 minutes or less.
- Students attending out-of-area Magnet Programs could experience bus rides of up to an hour or more to and from school, depending on their residences and the programs in which they are enrolled. Transportation services are provided from consolidated bus stops for Magnet Programs.
- All buses should arrive at each target school 10-15 minutes before the start of the school day.
- Many AACPS schools offer breakfast to students before schools. When requested by the school, the Transportation Office organizes buses to arrive 15-30 minutes before the start of the school day to allow students time to eat breakfast.
- All AACPS bus drivers must complete a certification process before they can begin driving a bus in Anne Arundel County.
- To protect the safety of our high school students, staff, and bus drivers, all afternoon buses are required to line up at their high school 10 minutes before dismissal, ensuring that buses are not moving when students are walking outside. Because student safety is our top priority, the Transportation Office includes this requirement as part of a driver's contract.