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NYC School Bus Strike: The Impact

NYC School Bus Strike: The Impact

Every afternoon, Angel’s school bus matron calls to let me know that he will be home in two minutes. She takes the initiative to do this because she knows that his arrival time can vary. I really appreciate this. After Hurricane Sandy, our school bus driver called us the night before schools were scheduled to open to confirm whether Angel would be going to school. I appreciated this also.

We have a special relationship with Angel’s school bus matron and driver. I know that when Angel is with them he is safe. I take comfort in knowing they care. They are experienced and they know how to handle him. This matters a lot to us as parents of a child with autism.

Angel’s commute to and from Brooklyn every school day is about 29 miles each way. Yes, I know his commute is long. However, these are the things parents of special education students have to deal with for our children to have an appropriate education in New York City.

bus watermarked

Yesterday, my heart sank as I listened to Michael Cordiello, president of ATU Local 1181 say that the school bus drivers will be going on strike this Wednesday. Our children with special needs go through enough already, so this will be a nightmare.

If you are not familiar with this saga, then you are probably wondering about the reasons for this strike. In a nutshell, the unions want new contracts with employee protection provisions and the NYC Department of Education is saying that these provisions are illegal as deemed by a court of law. So they are at a stalemate with no real negotiations taking place. I will not go into detail about who is right or wrong or even provide more details about why they are striking. You can get that from any news article online.

As a parent, I have to think about the direct impact that this school bus strike will have on my family. How will we get Angel to school? We rely on the school bus especially because of the distance that Angel has to travel to school each day. It spares us the expense and the time to reroute our trips to work.

The subway and bus ride to Angel’s school is two hours each way. Yes, the DOE has stated that they will provide metro cards and reimburse for car travel but we have to have the money to spend before we can be reimbursed. It costs approximately $40 by livery cab to Manhattan from our part of the Bronx. I can only imagine the cost to Brooklyn by cab.

We are working parents. Who will reimburse us for time lost from work to take Angel to and from school everyday? Metro cards sounds good on paper but it is not a feasible option for us. Angel just can’t handle the subway ride for such a long commute. I am not able to cut into my work hours to take him to and from school. Angel’s dad’s job is even less flexible. Mayor Bloomberg is urging parents to try their best to get their children to school. This is easier said than done.

As a precaution, I told my supervisor what is happening and I may get permission to work from home. This means we will most likely keep Angel home during the course of the strike. Working from home sounds ideal but it will be tough. Imagine trying to concentrate while Super Why or Yo Gabba Gabba blares in the background and your five-year old is getting into everything possible. I will just have to make it work because if I do not work, I do not get paid. I am fortunate regardless because all parents do not have this option. I understand that as Angel’s parents,  we will both have to make sacrifices.

I plan to ask his teacher to send materials for him to continue his school work at home and we can communicate via e-mail until this strike is over.

The down side to keeping Angel home is that he will miss out on valuable classroom time and social interaction. He will also miss his therapy sessions. Cordiello stated that only the mayor can put an end to this. In the mean time, I pray that a last minute deal can be reached. I know I am not alone. Lisa Quinones-Fontanez, a parent and blogger over at Autism Wonderland expressed what so many parents are feeling when she said, “The whole thing is sort of freaking me out. And I’m really hoping that all can be resolved between now and Wednesday.”

To find out if your child’s bus route will be affected by the strike, visit  the DOE link here.  I found that the easiest way to use this tool was to put in Angel’s bus route number.

There are 7,000 bus routes affected by this strike. Is your child’s bus route one of them? Please share your thoughts with us. We look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,

Miz Kp

P.S. This post also reflects the thoughts of Dad of Angel.

UPDATE: January 16th, 2013- The ATU Local 1181 school bus strike has officially started. 

Sign the Petition: End the NYC School Bus Strike Now!

 

 

 

Miz Kp
Written by Miz Kp

17 Comment responses

  1. Avatar
    January 15, 2013

    With anger and disdain, I reiterate we go through alot already, but this is like being in a movie where the bad guy is winning and the movie ends this way. The bus driver told me this morning that he doesnt necessarily like this situation and he has to follow through with what he is being told. It makes me wonder who is really in control of the situation. Honestly, there is NO WAY I can subject little Angel to this long travel through public transportation or by cab cross-borough. I know how my child is, but they do not care how our families are!

    Reply

    • Avatar
      January 15, 2013

      Bloomberg et al need to sit at a table and work out a deal. This strike should be averted before it can even begin. One can only hope.

      Reply

  2. Avatar
    January 15, 2013

    I am so sorry it has come to this and that so many families like yours will be deeply affected. Communities and businesses need to understand that the effects of their choices have ripples which reach very far. Sometimes they can be weathered; sometimes they can be devastating.

    I will keep you guys in my thoughts and keep fingers crossed that this gets resolved as quickly as possible.

    Reply

    • Avatar
      January 15, 2013

      Thanks so much for your encouragement and prayers. As the union and the city engage in their tug of war, our children suffer.

      Reply

  3. Avatar
    January 15, 2013

    I join the appeal for a strike to be avoided as the impact for children like Angel would be devastating. I hope the Mayor and Union read this post to see who the real victims are in this case. Lets put our children first as we stand for our rights.

    Reply

  4. Avatar
    January 15, 2013

    It will be interesting to see what happens. I hope that they can come to an agreement in the 11th hour. Crossing every single finger.

    Reply

    • Avatar
      January 16, 2013

      Well, the 11th hour has passed. This is a very sad situation.

      Reply

  5. Avatar
    January 15, 2013

    I too have a child with special needs and am disgusted by the situation. The thing that makes me the makes the most upset is bloomberg lying about the legality. I asked a lawyer friend of mine if it was true and he not even close.

    Reply

    • Avatar
      January 16, 2013

      We need Cuomo to take some leadership on this. A judge may have to intervene. No one is communicating so I am wondering how they will even be able to come to a deal? In the mean time, our kids suffer.

      Reply

  6. Avatar
    January 17, 2013

    Looks like we may have to wait for a judge to decide or a natural disaster to appear in NYC. This is a complete waste of our time and money. Shame on you, NY government!

    Reply

  7. Avatar
    January 20, 2013

    I cannot speak for all children with special needs, but I can speak from my own experience. The slightest change in schedule/day sent my daughter into hysterics. You are right, things are hard enough. There are so many dilemmas when raising any child. They are magnified when the child has special needs. Good luck with this issue. I hope it works out well for you. (I found your blog on Love That Max).

    Reply

    • Avatar
      January 20, 2013

      Thanks for your support. I hope this ends asap. We are about to go into a new week with no end in sight for this strike. Please sign the petition. The link has been added at the end of the post above. Thanks.

      Reply

  8. Avatar
    January 20, 2013

    OMG is the only think going through my head right now. My brain can not wrap around how this is even possible in the middle of the school year. Or that they would expect your child to be able to travel on public transportation at all. It shows that they are clueless, beyond clueless.

    Hopefully it ends soon and steps are taken for it NOT to happen again.

    ~ Jamie ( hopping over from Love That Max)

    Reply

    • Avatar
      January 20, 2013

      Thanks for your comment. Clueless is just the beginning. So many kids have had to miss school. Please sign the petition. The link has been added at the end of the post above. Thanks.

      Reply

  9. Avatar
    January 22, 2013

    Why are the buses striking?

    Reply

  10. Avatar
    January 23, 2013

    I feel bad for these parents and kids, but do you think these drivers don’t want to work but protest in three shifts a day? Mayor is lying about EPP being illigal. You think Union has no lawyers? This blue collar workers have no other choice… Without EPP’s, companies are buying and selling runs between them for better profit, hiring the less experienced drivers… A driver start work at 6AM, 4 hours break in midday (that many times they have trips), and until 6PM at night when all private schools end. Imagine driving a 15 to bus, shaking 8 hours every day, with unmanageble kids? Mayor has high costs from the enefficient way of designing runs and not from low salaries.

    Reply

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