By Melissa Gessner
Baltimore Watchdog Staff Writer
Students are getting sick and bus drivers are suffering from low morale because of dirty school buses, some of which have mold, according to several people who spoke before the Baltimore County Board of Education Wednesday.
Parents and bus drivers told the board that many drivers have to use disinfectant wipes themselves because there isn’t a bus cleaning station anywhere in the county.
“Children are having reoccurring pink eye and viral infections” due to unclean buses, said Stephanie Wilson, who has been a bus driver for 15 years.
“There is mold growing on some of the buses,” Wilson added. “Have these buses cleaned on the inside and out. I know we can do better.”
Nicole Landers, the director of the Parent2Parent Network, said the dirty buses are taking a toll on the students.
“How do we expect [students] to have a good learning day if we can’t even get them back and forth safely?” Landers asked the board.
In addition, residents told the board that bus drivers not getting paid on time.
Resident Timothy Robinson of Baltimore said that students will be adversely affected if bus drivers have low morale.
In other action, the school board discussed the possibility of adding 15 minutes to the end of every school day to ensure the county meets the state minimum 180 school days during the 2019-2020 academic year. The additional 15 minutes would add an extra 7.2 full school days to the calendar.
School board Chairman Edward Gilliss said the additional time may raise issues with teacher contracts.
Board member Kathleen Causey reminded the board that teachers work hard already.
Abby Beytin, the president of Teachers Association of Baltimore County, said teachers are not opposed to the additional time, but she said they would like to get paid for it.
Beytin said the change would affect teachers who are also parents and have to pay for after-school care. She said some of these teachers would have to pay additional fees for the extra time they are required to remain in the school house.
“We want them to compensate the teachers for the extra time that they’re going to be held in school,” Beytin said.
The board plans to continue their review later on in the year in hopes of concluding the 2019-2020 school calendar sometime in November.