MASTIC BEACH, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – One of Long Island’s largest school districts is on the hunt for drivers after breaking off with its former bus company.
Now it’s scrambling to fill the open positions before classes begin in a week and a half, reports CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan.
Parents rushed to district offices Friday with worries: Will their kids have to resort to bicycling to school?
“School taxes are very high in this area and there should be enough money to cover whatever is necessary to help the kids,” said Shirley homeowner Lynne O’Rourke.
“Kids should come first, and the school buses should run no matter what,” said Mastic Beach homeowner John Calicchia.
Labor Day is right around the corner, but the William Floyd School District, one of Long Island’s largest districts, is warning parents of its 9,000 students that half of them may have no transportation in September since 70 more bus drivers are urgently needed.
The school district says it was forced to rebid its contract with Medford-based East End Bus after the firm demanded an additional $5.5 million per year. The district said it could not ask taxpayers to bear the burden.
“We are put in a position not by the district’s choice, not by the driver’s choice, this is simply by the greed of the contractor,” said David Beggins, Assistant Superintendent Business, William Floyd School District.
East End declined comment, but the newly hired Acme Baumann and Sons is appealing to East End drivers to leave their union and join Acme’s and go back to work despite differences in benefits.
“Picking up the contract in August, it’s a rush to get drivers in so we are pushing as much as we can,” said Acme operating officer Lori Baumann. “We want the drivers to come over and apply and we are hoping and praying.”
The district which serves Mastic, Mastic Beach, Shirley and Moriches, will be contacting all parents by telephone, social media and its website if all bus drivers haven’t been hired by the start of the school year.