More than 150,000 New York City public school students may have to find other ways to get to school Monday morning.
The union representing the city’s school bus drivers is threatening to strike, in a dispute over job protection.
At issue is a new bus contract that could mean some drivers would lose their jobs.
Last month, the Department of Education released the first competitive bids for school-age yellow bus contracts to be issued in 33 years.
The current contracts are set to expire June 30th.
The DOE says the costs of bus service has soared to $1.1 billion each year, an average of $6,900 per bused student, making it the most expensive in the country.
The city has put contingency plans in place in case of a walkout.
Among the steps the city will take to assist families are robo-calling affected families, and providing MetroCards and reimbursements for those who must drive or use a car service.
Companies that operate yellow buses have also been preparing by posting job ads seeking replacement workers.
New York City Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott is encouraging families with children who receive yellow bus service to prepare alternative transportation plans.
“The union is asking for something we cannot legally deliver and are putting a central and necessary service at risk,” Walcott said. “A strike would be irresponsible and would adversely impact our students and their families who rely on bus service to get to and from school.
In the event of a strike, the city will take the following steps for families of students who currently receive yellow bus service:
“All students who currently receive yellow bus service may receive a MetroCard. MetroCards should be requested through the school’s general office. The DOE has informed the Metropolitan Transit Authority that it may need to accommodate additional riders.
“Parents of pre-school and school-age children with Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) and require transportation from their home directly to their school, as well as parents of general education children in grades K-2, may also request a MetroCard to escort their children to school.
“Parents of children who receive busing from their home or are in grades K through 6 and do not live in areas where public transportation between home and school is available, may request reimbursement for transportation costs. Parents who drive their children to school will be reimbursed at a rate of 55 cents per mile. Parents who use a taxi or car service to transport their child to school will be reimbursed for the trip upon completion of reimbursement forms that includes a receipt for provided services. Requests for reimbursements should be made weekly on forms that will be available on the DOE web site, www.schools.nyc.gov , and in schools’ general offices. Families who plan to drive or use a car service to carpool are encouraged to carpool with their neighbors whenever possible.
“In the unfortunate event that students cannot get to school, the Department will be posting materials online for every grade and core subject so that students can continue their learning at home during the strike.”
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