147 West 24th Street, New York, NY 10011
June 4, 2015
To Whom It May Concern:
Parents to Improve School Transportation NYC is a citywide volunteer organization of concerned family members of children and youth who ride yellow buses and mini-wagons to school. We would like to go on record in support of Employment Protection Provisions in the school busing system statewide. At this time that means we support the passage of S 5618 / A 8019.
Based on anecdotal evidence in complaints we get from parents about busing conditions for students with and without disabilities, we firmly believe that the quality and safety of busing is positively correlated with the number of experienced, trained and committed providers of this service. Common sense also suggests that the stability of any workforce depends on their having tangible benefits and dignified treatment. Our children deserve that stability. Remember, busing is how they start and end their school day. In many cases, busing is the factor that makes or breaks a child’s access to a Free, Appropriate Public Education under the federal civil rights laws.
It has been our experience that those school bus drivers, attendants, dispatchers and mechanics--and their organizations--who approach their job as a profession, also function as allies to students who are entitled to the service of school transportation. A worker with knowledge and pride in the industry and union empowerment is one who can speak up when parts are not in good shape, when routes are unreasonably long, when a child is bullied, etc.
Since the time when school bus contract bids occurred without EPP, since hundreds if not thousands of positions were taken away from seasoned attendants and drivers, and given to underpaid rookies, we have heard one scandalous story after another. The other day a parent of a pre Kindergartener described to me being yelled at by a driver who said, “I don’t give a $%^ about any of these kids!” The companies’ profit level indicates that they can afford to pay what it costs to retain a good workforce; we need legislative enforcement to make sure that happens.
Sara Catalinotto, Founder Parents to Improve School Transportation NYC