By Christophe Chino and Susie Ouderkirk
Will the school buses roll Friday morning? Even if not, school will still be in session.
The contract between the union for school bus drivers and the company they work for is set to expire Thursday evening, March 31. That means the company that picks up and drops off students for Las Cruces Public Schools could have no drivers on hand Friday, April 1.
Las Cruces Public Schools Superintendent Stan Rounds said a possible strike, “puts the safety and education of the students in jeopardy.”
Student Transportation Specialist – New Mexico (STS-NM) District Manager Dave Schultz said, “Maybe there will be no effect at all. At this time, a strike is all speculation.” STS-NM, a private company, holds the contract providing bus transportation to Las Cruces Public Schools’ students, according to the website. Schultz was on his way into a meeting Wednesday, March 30, to continue “ironing out issues,” of the contract negotiations.
STS-NM, a private company, holds the contract providing bus transportation to Las Cruces Public Schools’ students, according to the website. Schultz had more meetings scheduled to continue “ironing out issues,” of the contract negotiations.
Bus drivers, through their union, the Las Cruces Transportation Federation Local #6314, have been in negotiation with STS-NM since Oct. 31, 2015, and approached a deadline of Thursday, March 31. School bus transportation continued through Thursday, but the contract between the union and the bus company was scheduled to expire Thursday evening.
Rounds explained that LCPS is not involved in the negotiations between the bus drivers and the company, “We are not privy to the negotiations,” Rounds said. “We will have school every day,” he said, and if the issue cannot be settled, the school district will “reach out to parents to take their children to school and pick them up.”
Rounds also explained the parameters that children who receive bus rides have in context to distance from school: In order to receive a bus ride to/from school a student must live:
•Elementary: One mile or more from the school
•Middle: One-and-a-half mile or more from the school
•High School: Two miles or more from the school
“The bus company and the drivers are not putting the students first,” Rounds said.
According to the STS-NM website, “We will maintain our integrity and always remember that customer service is paramount.”
“We expect the protection of the students and we expect educational opportunity,” Rounds said.
As Rounds put it, LCPS is planning for the worst case scenario come Friday, unless notified otherwise.