New York City (WABC) — The school year begins in New York City, the largest school district in the nation.
Teachers and administrators face some challenges they haven’t faced in the past few years.
A strike by school bus drivers could affect thousands of public school students in the city.
The good news is that the union says bus services will run as normal for the two days before school starts (Thursday and Friday), but the bad news is that strikes are still possible in the coming days.
A strike by school bus drivers could affect as many as 80,000 students in the New York City public school system. Of these, nearly 25,000 had special needs.
Unions representing bus drivers, flight attendants and mechanics say they simply cannot make ends meet and want to negotiate a fair contract.
“We want bus drivers to do the right thing. They take our kids to and from,” Mayor Eric Adams said.
The city issued a strike contingency plan.
If students are able to use public transportation, they will be issued a MetroCard. If that’s not an option, families will be compensated for alternative transportation, or in some cases, the city may offer a ride-sharing service.
School principal David Banks addressed some concerns during a back-to-school roundtable discussion with deputies at Department of Education headquarters on Wednesday.
“When the two sides talk, they are not on strike, we are continuing to push for a quick solution that is in the best interest of all our young people, and the ATU have said they will not be on strike on the first day of school, but something has to be done by the company and ATU measures ahead of the first day of school have been delayed,” Banks said. “Every year drivers choose their route for the coming year based on seniority, and last week the ATU delayed the process, which could result in some drivers being placed on unfamiliar bus routes and some companies unable to service families who ride curbside to School bus routes and provide pick-up times prior to the first day of school.”
Banksy also addressed the issue of asylum-seeking students, who nearly offset this year’s decline in enrollment.
There are 2,500 temporary housing students enrolled this summer, for a total of 21,000.
“This fall. We’re committing $12 million, or $2,000 per student, to schools for six or more students who are flooding into temporary housing,” Banks said.
Space is not an issue because 120,000 families have dropped out of the public school system during the pandemic.
The challenge is placing students close to their homes, as officials say many schools near migrant families are already at capacity.
“Most students are placed in schools that are closer to the location. For those parents who are able to travel a little bit or are willing to travel further, then those families can definitely go to schools with stronger immigrant support.” New York Immigration Coalition Lisa Schwarzwald says.
With the influx of migrant students, the city has had to work harder to find more bilingual teachers.
According to the Department of Education, the city has 3,400 English as a Second Language teachers and 1,700 certified bilingual teachers who are proficient in Spanish.
The chancellor said urban children were still not reading at the level they needed and getting them there was a priority.
“We’ve made mistakes here in New York and across the country,” Banks said. “Many of us follow the same pre-script of balanced literacy. Like the dance of the lemmings, we all march from the side of the hill. A generation Another generation of children has been harmed by it.”
New for this school year are two virtual high schools, each with 150 ninth and tenth graders, that will soon offer evening and weekend classes to remote students with nontraditional schedules.
ALSO READ | FDNY to Add 43 Names to 9/11 Wall of Remembrance, Second Most Since Inception
* Get Eyewitness News
* More New York City News
* Send us a news alert
* Download the abc7NY app for breaking news alerts
* Follow us on YouTube
Submit a tip or story idea to Eyewitness News