The William Floyd School District is short approximately 70 large buses for the first week of school, which resulted in approximately 8,000 students needing to find an alternative transportation method. The issue is the result of a contract dispute between the district and East End Bus Lines, who backed out of their contract after asking for additional payments.
The new company, Baumann & Sons Inc., was awarded the contract in August and has since been working to hire large bus drivers. But despite efforts by the district and the company, there have not been any successful attempts to reach an agreement with the Transportation Workers Union Local 252.
As of now, only the large buses are affected by the dispute. Officials said that small buses and special-use vehicles are covered, which serve approximately 900 students in the district. As of Sept. 5, the first day of school, there were no large buses running.
The district has been sending out communications to families via the website, social media and other methods in an effort to warn parents that there would be disruptions in the transportation process.
At a press conference held Saturday morning, superintendent Kevin Coster announced that the district would open before- and after-care programs at the middle and elementary schools until the issue is resolved. The program will open and close one hour before and after the school day. Snacks will be provided.
The district is currently working with the teachers union and the teachers assistant union, nurses and administrators, among others, to find supervision for the children that elect to take advantage of the care. Officials are also working on arrival and dismissal plans that will allow for a smooth transition for students into new classrooms and guidelines for pickups and dropoffs. A detailed plan is available for each school on the district website.
“We are very concerned about disruptions in our classrooms, and disruptions during the first month of school,” Coster said. The two parties, he said, were negotiating on Friday evening for a potential agreement, but as of Wednesday morning, no agreement had been reached.
Officials from Local 252 declined to give a statement on Tuesday afternoon.
Acme Bus Corp., a division of Baumann & Sons, posted an update on their Facebook page on Monday, placing blame on the union for the dispute. Officials from the company and the union were in the same room last week during the board of education meeting and have agreed to continue working on an agreement. Acme said that Local 252 officials demanded work for the 230 operaters terminated by East End Bus Lines after their contract was dissolved, which would result in over 150 people from Acme being fired.
“No one wins in a situation like this,” the company wrote. “Not the William Floyd school community, not Acme, and certainly not the former East End Transportation drivers who remain out of work.”
Acme is not yet in breach of contract, which requires they offer the manpower and equipment to service the agreement. Coster said that after 10 days from the start of school, the contract would be in breach.
For any questions related to childcare, the district requests you call your child’s elementary or middle school and note the before-school and after-school childcare dropoff/pickup times. For any transportation-related questions, call the transportation office at 631-874-1305.