August 29, 2013 Update from Parents to Improve School Transportation/Padres para Mejorar el Transporte Escolar
CONTENTS: School bus news; Other events; Next meetings;
School bus news-5 items
1. The Office of Pupil Transportation has posted some routes that you can check using your child’s OSIS ID number at https://www.opt-osfns.org/opt/Resources/SchoolRouteStSearch/SearchResult.aspx
We have heard from New York City Parents Fed Up with Transportation Troubles that the routes look messed up already (!)
2. We also have reasons to suspect that the companies that were given 1,100 routes (after bidding low without Employee Protection this February as Bloomberg insisted) have yet to finish hiring and training enough drivers and matrons to do the work properly.
We know from published want ads that they are offering matrons $300-$325 a week and drivers about $500 a week, for a 40-week year.
A parent called JOFAZ and PHILIP on 8/12 to inquire about the vacancies. When she asked if you need experience to be a driver, one company said, “Not really,” and the other said that experience helps but it’s not necessary. When she asked if you need experience to be an escort, one company said, “That’s what the class is for,” and the other said that training is good enough. They said if you go through the training class on August 17, 18, 24 and 25, (which costs $350) you are hired.
So please be on alert now more than ever. We hear that in order to save money, OPT is allowing consolidation of pre-K and K-12 routes. With underpaid brand new people, just as the strikers warned about.
3. Bus evacuation and safety drills are required 3 times a year. Please try to find out whether your child has had an on-the-bus drill by Sept. 17. For more info contact DePaula@mindspring.com
4. Painful but practical advice:
Whenever you get route info, call OPT, the company and the school (school staff returns Sept. 3) to make sure they all have the same information, especially correct dismissal times and medical codes. Record or take notes on each conversation. But be ready for it to change, and then this process will have to be repeated…
If you get a route letter, fill out the form; if not, get a page ready yourself with the names of responsible people. If the bus is so late on the first morning that you give up and take the child to school yourself, it is likely that they also won’t pick up the child from school in the afternoon without this document. HAVE ALTERNATE PLANS FOR THE FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL at least!
Keep a small notebook for writing down facts about problematic bus trips, and your complaint numbers.
That said, WE DO NOT ACCEPT that everything should be so hard for families who rely on the service of school transportation, whether general or special education. We know it can be done more humanely and that is why we fight for a SCHOOL BUS BILL OF RIGHTS. Please stay in touch with firstname.lastname@example.org and on Facebook PIST NYC, hotline # 347-504-3310.
5. Special thanks to Cheryl, Deirdre Griswold and Domenick Rafter for these press reports from the PIST demonstration against hot summer school buses:
Other Events-3 items
1. Thank you to Belinda, Milagros, Margaret and Johnnie for representing PIST at neighborhood events, education and labor meetings, candidate events, and the 50th anniversary March on Washington!
2. Thursday September 19, 6 pm, Citywide Council on Special Education public meeting on Equal Access for ALL is at a school where co-location is a threat to programs for students with disabilities: PS 149 M, 41 West 117th St., NY NY 10026 Confirm at 718-391-8354
3. PLEASE CONTINUE TO CALL and/or email the Governor in support of A 8060/ S 5848 to enhance school bus training and job security at
http://www.governor.ny.gov/contact/GovernorContactForm.php (topic “Education”) or call 518-474-8390.
PIST has a working meeting on Tuesday September 3 at 5:00 p.m. at 147 West 24th Street, 2nd floor.
CID-NY has graciously offered to host a public meeting for school bus parents with legal experts. Date and details to be confirmed.