ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman on Tuesday said he is committed to using federal and local funding to increase the paychecks of the county’s school bus drivers after a drivers strike that has impacted dozens of students’ commutes.

The drivers with Annapolis Bus Company have been on strike since Monday, demanding better pay and benefits. Anne Arundel County Public Schools said on Tuesday 80 bus routes were impacted.

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“To say that I’m angry and upset is an understatement, and it’s not the school bus drivers that I’m angry at,” Pittman said. “The drivers are at wit’s end at this point. We know that being a school bus driver is a grossly underpaid job that requires a huge amount of skill and responsibility.”

Annapolis Bus Company is one of about 15 bus companies that have contracts with Anne Arundel County Schools.

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Pittman said that from his meetings with bus contractors, he learned the contractors estimate most drivers make between $25,000 to $28,000 annually. He said there is a general consensus that the drivers need to be paid a living wage.

“We won’t solve the shortage of drivers problem in this county until we address the fact that these jobs don’t pay a livable wage,” Pittman said.

Pittman said he will attend a school board meeting at noon Tuesday to call on the board to change the way contracts are written with the bus companies the county enlists.

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CBS Baltimore Staff