Posts tagged "school buses"
February 21, 2013
Five weeks ago, what happened at P721 in Manhattan on Wednesday would not have seemed extraordinary: Yellow buses pulled up by the main entrance and assistant teacher Miguelina Valerio took attendance and greeted students as they headed into school.
But after a bus drivers’ strike that lasted over a month, the yellow buses marked the end of nightmarish commutes for many parents and, for many students with special needs, a long-awaited return to class.
P721 is a District 75 school that provides occupational training to high school students. During the strike, Valerio said, only 70 or 80 students came to school each day out of a student body of 200. “More than half the students were missing,” she said. “Little by little they’re coming back.” (more…)
January 4, 2013
The city and its school bus drivers union are each appealing to parents as they stake out their positions in a contract dispute that could cause a bus strike.
On Thursday, the city held a required meeting to explain its conditions for new contracts for school bus companies. One condition that it isn’t including, citing a 2011 legal decision, is a seniority clause guaranteeing that current drivers can keep their jobs even if the bus companies they work for do not win a new contract. That omission has drawn the ire of the bus drivers’ union, the Amalgamated Transit Union’s Local 1181, whose members authorized a strike over the issue when it first arose in 2011.
In a flyer handed out at the city’s meeting and being distributed by email, the ATU asks parents to lobby the city on bus drivers’ behalf. Telling parents that “there will be a stoppage to service to you,” the flyer warns parents that doing away with seniority protections could put children at risk.
Update: ATU 1181 President Michael Cordiello said through a spokeswoman today that the union is “exploring every option to avert a strike” but that it remained a likely possibility if the city does not cave.
“Please support us in our cause because you don’t want, ‘just anybody’ driving your children,” the flyer says. A few sentences later, in bold letters, it says, “Don’t put your child on an unsafe bus!”
November 6, 2012
Students in 22 city schools will miss a seventh straight day of class on Wednesday while the Department of Education continues to restore buildings damaged and disrupted by Hurricane Sandy.
And thousands of other students will have to make their way to school on their own because the department does not have enough buses to move all of the students who need transportation.
After calling local private bus companies and petitioning the state and federal emergency relief organizations, the city has rounded up more than 100 additional buses to join the 7,400 that ran on Monday, officials said this evening. But still, buses will serve students at fewer than half of the 43 schools that are so severely damaged that they must be moved. Those schools, which together enroll about 20,000 students, are opening for the first time on Wednesday.
A major problem, Chief Academic Officer Shael Polakow-Suransky said this evening, is that the department’s transportation hub, located in Long Island City, still does not have power. The department can only add new routes, not make the ones it already operates more efficient, while the computer system that programs the city’s 7,700 school bus routes is down, he said.
“We don’t have access to any of that,” he said. “Everything we are doing at this point is by hand.” (more…)
January 9, 2012
The “strong possibility” of a school bus strike that the city raised the alarm about back in November hasn’t come to pass. But it has still caused a headache at the Department of Education.
A message sent to principals last week noted that MetroCards distributed to schools at the time were being used, even though they were meant to be handed out only in the case of a bus strike.
Those MetroCards were disabled last week and the city asked principals, perhaps quixotically, to collect the ones that had already made their way into circulation.
“If you find that the MetroCards delivered in these packages were inadvertently distributed, please collect them immediately,” read the note tucked into the Principals Weekly newsletter.
The message was very different in tone from the alarmed dispatches sent to principals — three times, one principal told GothamSchools — the day Mayor Bloomberg held a hastily planned press conference to announce the strike threat. At the time, city officials said the union that represents bus drivers had threatened to strike immediately, a charge that union officials disputed. They said the union had raised the possibility of a strike — as it had repeatedly in recent years, without action — but not set a timeline.
November 21, 2011
For Simon Jean-Baptiste, a veteran school bus driver who belongs to Local 1181, the city’s announcement Friday that his union could go on strike at any moment was news to him.
“It’s the city that we heard that from,” Jean-Baptiste said today.
Jean-Baptiste, a former vice president in the union, said he had no idea there was any kind of citywide strike threat until he first heard about it from media reports prompted by a last-minute press conference called by Mayor Bloomberg on Friday. Bloomberg warned that Local 1181′s leadership opposed the city’s plans for a new contract for pre-kindergarten bus drivers because the city would not guarantee job security for experienced drivers. As a result, he said, an “immediate” strike was possible.
At the same time, Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott sent a comprehensive plan to principals for how they should handle a strike should it occur.
Hours later, Local 1181 President Michael Cordiello said in a statement that a strike over seniority rights was “likely” but not imminent. Today, Cordiello said in a statement that the union was beginning to weigh its options.
“We do not want to strike, but we have been forced to keep our options open by cost-cutting proposals by Mayor Bloomberg,” he said.
As buses rolled up to schools on time this morning, and with no strike imminent, some are questioning the urgency with with Bloomberg and Walcott presented the threat. (more…)
A group of bus companies sued the Department of Education today, claiming that the city has violated competitive bidding statutes by contracting with a company known to have bribed school bus inspectors.
Members of the Panel for Educational Policy approved a three-year contract with Logan Bus Co. at a meeting last night. Steven Shore, an attorney representing the rival bus companies — among them Amboy Bus Co. and Pioneer Transportation Corp. — warned panel members that approving the contract would lead to an immediate legal challenge.
Asked why the contract had not been competitively bid, the DOE’s general counsel, Michael Best, said competitive bidding would have been too difficult because all of the city’s school bus contracts expired at the same time. The new contract with Logan allows for staggered expiration dates in the future.
Shore’s affidavit is below. (more…)