LANSDALE, Pa. — The National School Transportation Association (NSTA) is urging federal and state government officials to mandate action that requires school districts to fund transportation systems through the conclusion of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
In response to a growing list of school closures for the safety of the students, faculty, families, and support staff, NSTA Executive Director Curt Macysyn sent letters on Monday to 50 state governors, the Mayor’s Office of the District of Columbia, and U.S. Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos calling for the support, according to a news release from the association.
“These are extraordinary times, and we urge you to take immediate action that directs state Departments of Education to require their school districts to continue to pay for pupil transportation funding for a 180-day school year — in the event of any reduction in transportation days,” Macysyn stated in the letter. He added that these funds are already allocated in state budgets and a mechanism is currently in place to distribute them.
Macysyn noted in the letter that the NSTA represents private school bus contractors who transport more than one-third of the 26 million children in the U.S. transported by a school bus each day. He highlighted the association’s desire to maintain a sound student transportation infrastructure that can immediately restart after the unprecedented interruption to the school year due to the COVID-19 crisis.
“It will not serve the schoolchildren of this country to have 38% of available student transportation options eliminated after this crisis subsides,” Macysyn added in the letter.
He also pointed out that the school closures, cancelations of almost all field trips, sporting events, and charters have threatened the livelihood of thousands of workers, potentially exacerbating the industry’s driver shortage.
“Maintaining consistent pupil transportation funding through this crisis will enable our members [to] provide a regular paycheck on an ongoing basis,” Macysyn wrote. “In addition, a regular paycheck may ensure that drivers will not seek other employment, and will instead be available when school resumes.”
He added that increased maintenance costs as a result of stringent bus disinfecting measures have adversely impacted private school bus contractors across the U.S. and that to provide continuity, contractors need to maintain their fleet staffs and operations.
In addition, Macysyn noted that, with their in-depth knowledge of bus routes and stops, school bus contractors can assist districts with the distribution of meals to students during school closures.
Macysyn also emphasized that emergency stimulus monies would not be necessary to support the industry if districts continue payments to school bus contractors.
Read the NSTA’s letter to DeVos here.