Layoffs looming for hundreds of Frederick County Schools bus drivers, cafeteria workers

Hundreds of school bus drivers and cafeteria workers with the Fredrick County Public Schools system are expected to lose their jobs in the coming weeks.

The school system made the announcement in a letter Wednesday, saying that they simply don’t have work for them. 

“This was an incredibly painful decision as you can imagine going with a fully virtual mode,” said schools superintendent, Theresa Alban Thursday during a Zoom interview with FOX 5’s Ayesha Khan.

“Our board has asked that we do that until January 31 and then there will be a re-evaluation,” she said.

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Alban said the school system transports nearly 30,000 kids and distributes 12,000 meals every day. 

“We will not have the need to transport that many students and we certainly won’t be serving about 12,000 lunches a day,” Alban continued.

Alban said that back in the spring, the school system suffered a $1.7 million budget loss because food and nutrition workers were still being paid but no food was actually being served to the students. 

“For our food and nutrition services the challenge is, this is a self-supporting fund and any time, that fund goes into the negative, we have to pull out of the operating budget, so there will be very limited if any revenue coming into that fund this year,” Alban said.

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As far as bus drivers are concerned, Alban said that the school board gave approval for the school system for bringing in some small groups of students for in-person instruction but right now officials are in the process of finding out which parent will agree to have their kids return and which staff members are willing to support that idea.

“We have almost 600 employees that fall into those two categories but not all will be laid off or furloughed,” said Alban, “most of them are on notice that they could be part of the reduction and then we will begin calling people back so some people who got a reduction in force letter will still be working and will not have to rift.”

She said the recall process will occur over the course of the next couple of weeks because even if students are only in a virtual environment, they are still in school which means the school system still has to serve lunch and will probably continue to do some of the ‘grab-and-go’ types of lunches that were distributed did over the summer, requiring a much smaller staff.

Alban also went on to say that all employees will continue to be paid through September 15 and FCPS will continue to pay for their health insurance through at least the end of 2020.