Monday, January 14, 2013

What Will I Do If There's a NYC School Bus Strike?

I've been trying not to think about. What we would do if there really is a school bus strike?

We live in The Bronx. The Boy's school is up in Westchester County - twenty miles away. I don't know how to drive. (I just got scolded for the billionth time "this is exactly the reason why you should know how to drive Babe.") And I work down in Manhattan.

Bus drivers and matrons are scheduled to strike starting Wednesday.

You may be wondering how New York City is preparing for a possible school bus strike?  

The strike will impact "152,000 students and their families." And a significant amount of these students have special needs.

And it makes me laugh every time every time I hear that the DOE plans on handing out metro cards. "Parents of children in grades K-2 can request an additional MetroCard to escort their child to school." 

So...the DOE thinks it's okay to put a 3rd grader (an 8-9 year old) on the train or bus unescorted by their parent? I wasn't allowed to take the train/bus by myself until I started the 9th grade.  The irony of this is - if I left an 8 year old home alone and the DOE or any one else found out about it, I may have children's services knocking at my door.

Either way, a metro card isn't really going to help me. 

The DOE will also offer reimbursement to parents driving their kids to school or taking a car service - after filling out a form, of course.

Many kids in the public school system are working class families, single parents, parents of with multiple children, families who are working to simply get by. Families who do not have the flexibility in their jobs to take time off or work from home. Families who do not have cars or have the room in their budget to pay for car service (especially if the strike lasts for more than a few days). And let's be for real, it's the DOE - it could take months for reimbursement. 

The Boy's been on a school bus since he was two years old. It isn't easy putting your kid on a school bus, sending them off with strangers hoping they will keep them safe. Especially when you have a child with special needs and they don't have the capacity to tell you about their day to day events. The bus drivers and matrons are absolutely critical to families like mine and they deserved to be treated as such. But the Department of Education and The Office of Pupil Transportation are two different entities who I wished spent more time working together. Because there's too much red tape involved and our kids are all tangled up in it.     
So what will we do if there really is a strike? Here are the options -  

Option #1: I'll take a vacation days, stay home with The Boy and try to keep him busy. 

Option #2: Take vacation days and take him up to school via public transportation (car service is not an option for me can't afford it - especially if this lasts for a few days). Public transportation requires a bus, the metro north train and a cab from the station to the school. It will take about 2.5 hours. Going back home or even to work would be a waste of time and money because The Boy will still need to get home. I may need to just set myself up in the parents lounge... 

Option #3: Go to work, keep him home with a babysitter - I'll have to pay extra for that too. 

Either way, The Boy will be missing out on something and his entire routine will be disrupted.
The whole thing is sort of freaking me out. And I'm really hoping that all can be resolved between now and Wednesday.  

1 comment:

  1. That stinks!! I will keeping my fingers and toes crossed for you.


AutismWonderland - written by Lisa Quinones-Fontanez - is a personal blog chronicling a NYC family's journey with autism, while also sharing local resources for children/families with special needs.