District urges parents to make contingency plans amid bus dispute

Posted: Updated:
MASTIC BEACH -

Families in the William Floyd School District are being urged to make contingency transportation plans ahead of the start of school next week, after a renewed effort to secure bus service for students failed.

Classes are set to start Wednesday, but bus service has been in limbo since the district says it was forced to switch bus companies. In a message to parents Friday, Superintendent Kevin Coster said the district is "in this predicament due to the actions of East End Bus Lines demanding an additional $16.5 million of taxpayer money." East End was formerly the district’s transportation provider, but it has since switched to Acme/Baumann.

In a statement, a district spokesman said, "Local 252 has refused to make large bus drivers available to Acme/Baumann. As a result, there will be no large bus transportation for our students when school starts next week. We are hopeful that the union and the transportation provider can set aside their differences, sit down and come to a fair agreement for the sake of our students and their families."

Jack Valenti, of Local 252, says drivers are being “used as pawns.”

"It's not something that we've done. We were let go. We were terminated," he says.

The drivers say that Acme/Baumann wanted to only employ some of East End’s drivers at lower wages and higher union dues without meeting the terms of the previous contract. None of them took the deal.

"We're not asking that much,” said one driver. “Sign it, come together with our union, and then we all can get back to work."

News 12 contacted the Baumann bus company, but management declined to comment.

Coster says mini buses will run and are not expected to be impacted, but families need to make alternate plans for transporting their children to and from school.

He says carpooling is recommended, and the district will "temporarily provide one hour of before-school child care and one hour of after-school child care, along with breakfast and after-school snacks" in an effort to ease the burden on parents and families.

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