All Frederick County taxpayers should be extremely disappointed in the Board of Education's decision to approve a reduction in force (RIF) of hundreds of bus drivers and food service employees. This decision shows a lack of regard and empathy for hundreds of families, including our own, who need income during this state of emergency and economic and social instability.

Food service and transportation positions are the most difficult to fill and to retain under good circumstances. Due to layoffs, these employees will have to find other jobs. When the time comes to resume in-person classes, where will FCPS find sufficiently trained, certified staff to perform these essential jobs?

BOE President Brad Young admitted to the Frederick News-Post that this decision, which was discussed in private, without public comment, was not made because of a gap in funding. Funds were appropriated for these positions, effective July 1, 2020. All other school district employees will be retained and paid. What are the real reasons for the RIF?

According to Mr. Young, the BOE decided that it did not want to pay these employees because they were not actually working. He said: "...it’s hard to justify to other employees who are working, how you’re paying other employees who are not.” That’s not a good reason to lay off hundreds of people in the middle of a national emergency.

The board and FCPS staff should think creatively. These people want to work. These employees, in good faith, agreed to perform the work and committed to FCPS for the 2020-21 school year. And now, with no time to find comparable work, they have been denied the opportunity to earn a living through a BOE decision made with no public/taxpayer comment.

Did the board and FCPS staff think about how to creatively use these workers to do other jobs in FCPS? Literally tens of millions of people are out of work right now; applying for unemployment or finding a new job will be incredibly difficult.

I am very disappointed in the board's short-sighted decision as well as the insensitive comments Mr. Young made regarding this decision and his obvious disregard for FCPS employees and their needs.

A public hearing on this matter is needed to help find solutions that would allow these employees to retain their positions, medical insurance and salaries.

(19) comments

loyalreader

One thing the BOE did with bus drivers was require them to complete "71" educational modules. They received them on June 18th and were to be completed by August 1st. Topics ranged from: how to make a mask; driving in all types of weather conditions and on various terrains; other driving safety courses, LLC and "rock and roll"; dealing with all types of students and their many needs; medical and first aid information/treatment in case of emergencies; what to do if a student has a weapon or an intruder forces themselves on the bus with a weapon; ways to deal with students who try to distract the driver and how to discipline them according to system policy; etc., etc, etc,. These modules averaged in length from 9 minutes to 55 minutes with the average being around 20-25 minutes. A test was given at the end of each lesson and had to meet a passing percentage or repeat the course. Please don't think that FCPS bus drivers were required to do nothing during this pandemic. My hope is that after the first two weeks of virtual learning the BOE will use as many of the bus drivers as they can supplying transportation for face to face instruction and those not able to adequately access the internet for the virtual experience. I do feel bad for those drivers that may not have had access to a laptop or a tablet to complete this requirement. I do believe the BOE is doing the best they can during these uncharted times. Let's hope we can at least start using the hybrid model come semester 2 of this '20-'21 school year. Finally please remember to kind and try to see all sides of a situation until we can return to a more normal society.

JustACitizen

The letter writer stresses the need to think "creatively" to explore employment options for laid-off FCPS workers but provides not a single one herself. All well and good to feel empathy and encourage others to find creative solutions, but to offer no creative suggestions is not helpful to anyone.

gabrielshorn2013

Unfortunate? Yes. Sad? Yes. Wrong? Absolutely not. The fact that the funds have already been appropriated does not mean that they must be spent, especially if the tasks that those salaries support are not being performed. The BoE has a fiduciary duty to be good stewards of taxpayer funding. Now that FCPS seems to have found a windfall, what will they do with it? Perform delayed but required repairs and maintenance? There is a start. Hands-on training for teachers in online education methods and software? Good idea.

MD1756

Maybe they should try paying a higher wage if those positions are that difficult to fill currently. That would help move those people to closer to a "living wage." Or, if you don't think they should be paid more, how about opening those positions up to all the illegal immigrants in which case they'll probably be able to take advantage of them and keep their wages low.

llrowse

Short sighted? The BOE/FCPS is not Social Services. Cafeteria workers and bus drivers are not working at this time, and likely won’t for the school year. Exactly what tasks would you have them perform? The BOE is constantly under fire for its spending. Covid has touched all of us. Bus drivers and cafeteria staff are not essential workers at this time. At some point life will return to normal, but at present, we all need to adjust the situation at hand.

KellyAlzan

You failed to see my point. Failed.

dabittle

BOE needs all the taxpayer dollars they can get for re-turfing the five artificial turf fields currently being re-turfed. That's some fine Leadersh!t.

KellyAlzan

Pretty much along the lines of what I wrote late week in my comments.

It’s veey difficult to find qualified drivers that are reliable, sober, and that can bring the bus back with all the wheels in place.

Very short sighted of Brad Young

MD1756

Please cite sources (i.e., how many bus drivers have been convicted of drunk driving while operating the bus or how many accidents have bus drivers had that significantly damaged the bus or other property?) or is it just your opinion.

bosco

I wonder how many potential bus drivers are not hired during the screening process because of poor driving record, DWIs, sex offenders, etc? Low paying jobs don't necessarily attract the best and the brightest and I would hope the screening process would weed out the undesirables. [ninja]

KellyAlzan

Exactly Bosco, finally one gets it

bosco

Thanks, Kelly. [thumbup][ninja]

KellyAlzan

MD - not what I stated, nor what o eluded to. Your reading and interpretation need practice

KellyAlzan

Correction: I eluded to.....

MD1756

Very often, higher pay leads to more applicants with better qualifications. I noticed you didn't answer my question about sources. Did you not understand the question?

public-redux

Did you mean “alluded to”?

KellyAlzan

MD1756 I am not sure what you are attempting to debate with me.

Asking for sources?

Telling me about wages and quality of candidates? Thats my entire point!!! LOL

I'm an employer, I know what the labor pool consists of and so do all other employers. Employers don't have sources. We live it.

gabrielshorn2013

I was wondering what Pb escaped from myself public. [lol][lol][lol]

MD1756

It's quite clear Kelly. You made the statement "It’s veey [sic] difficult to find qualified drivers that are reliable, sober, and that can bring the bus back with all the wheels in place."

I'm simply asking you for documentation of the number of county bus drivers who have driven drunk on the job or crashed their buses on the job. I've also suggested that you pool of candidates might be related to the wages you offer (poor). What wages do you pay your employees if you're getting such a low quality pool of candidates?

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