WASHINGTON, D.C. — As a vote in the U.S. Senate on Sunday failed to advance the nearly $2 trillion economic stimulus package in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, sending lawmakers back into negotiations, an industry association is continuing to urge relief for pupil transporters.
The National School Transportation Association (NSTA) is still asking lawmakers to immediately require school districts to fund pupil transportation contracts through the conclusion of the COVID-19 health crisis, according to a news release from the association. (As School Bus Fleet previously reported, NSTA Executive Director Curt Macysyn sent letters on March 16 to 50 state governors, the Mayor’s Office of the District of Columbia, and U.S. Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos calling for a mandate that requires school districts to fund transportation systems through the conclusion of the pandemic.)
NSTA Executive Director Curt Macysyn noted that the association continues to work with governors, state departments of transportation and education, Congress, and the Trump administration to craft a solution to provide relief for hundreds of thousands of school bus drivers, mechanics, dispatchers, and support staff, and preserve the capabilities of the private student transportation industry.
Statistically, private school bus contractors provide approximately 38% of school bus services for districts around the country, employing 250,000 people, according to the NSTA.
“Keeping the student transportation system intact during this crisis has and will have many different net benefits for the country,” Macysyn said. “Student transportation has already been called upon to deliver meals to students who have been displaced from their breakfast and lunch programs.”
School bus operators can also play a critical role in transporting medical supplies to areas acutely affected by COVID-19, and assisting National Guard units and first responders, he added.
“We sincerely hope that legislators and policymakers take this potential outcome seriously,” Macysyn said. “Only by taking action now can a crisis be averted.”
The Associated Press reports that top congressional leaders and White House officials expect to reach a deal on the stimulus package on Tuesday.