State rolls school buses in Huntington, but officials fight for long-term solution to driver shortage – CBS New York
HUNTINGTON, NY (CBSNewYork) – School buses were rolled out in Huntington on Thursday, despite the district bus provider saying it had to cut dozens of roads.
This forced Governor Kathy Hochul to intervene.
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The superintendent told CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan that the navigation was not completely smooth on all roads Thursday morning, but the bumps and bruises were minor thanks to a temporary 11th hour compromise.
The neighborhood is scrambling for a long-term solution after being blinded by its 62-year-old bus company.
âI think it’s unfortunate. I think it’s a communication problem, âHuntington’s relative Lisa Rigney told McLogan. “I think there should have been a warning to parents or the school district that this was happening.”
The Huntington Coach Corporation, which serves 4,400 district public school children, gave just 36 hours’ notice that it would start cutting dozens of roads starting Thursday and withdraw from its contract entirely on October 8.
Now state lawmakers are stepping in.
âUltimately, if they keep going out, it is our duty on all elected officials to work with the school district and find a way to find buses and drivers for these students,â New said. York State Senator James Gaughran.
Options include a new bus company, new drivers and the involvement of the Attorney General to help remove barriers allowing school bus drivers to be quickly trained and certified.
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Huntington Coach apologized, citing an unprecedented driver shortage and spelling out COVID-19 mandates.
Some parents called him selfish and begged drivers to get the shot.
âI wouldn’t want my kids to be with people who aren’t vaccinated,â one person said.
The superintendent said he understood there was an industry-wide shortage of drivers across America, but the breach of the company’s contract was illegal – and a slap in the face.
âThis is a national effort at this point. We’re working with a transportation consultant, and he’s actively going beyond local, regional and even state territory to see if we can get help, âsaid Huntington School District Superintendent of Schools, James Polansky.
Many parents who were able to drive their children to school on Thursday.
âI feel bad that the children cannot get to school easily,â said one person. “And for parents who then have to make alternative plans.”
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The Huntington School Board has scheduled an emergency meeting to consider a lawsuit against the bus company for terminating its three-year contract.