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South Colonie cuts midday bus routes for pre-kindergarten students

Budget constraints lead to cuts in driver hours

— After another year of being financially strained, South Colonie Central School District is cutting midday transportation for universal pre-K students, forcing parents to find other ways to get their children to school.

At the Board of Education meeting Tuesday, April 22, the board adopted a $95.2 million budget that reduced the hours of 23 bus drivers by eliminating midday UPK bus runs.

School Superintendent Jonathan Buhner said those drivers are going to have their hours cut from eight to six hours, making them part-time employees.

“We’re eliminating transportation for UPK and adjusting some activity runs. It’s going to mean for 23 drivers that they will be going to part-time status,” said Director of Transportation Peter Tunny. “Normally, the way it works is that the drivers come in 6:30-9:30 a.m. then come back at 11:30 a.m. to drive UPK students, and then come back 1:30-4:30 p.m.”

Tunny said that morning and afternoon runs would remain the same. Declining enrollment has also allowed to the district to consolidate some of the runs, which put more students on each bus. Tunny was not sure if there would still be a 5:30 p.m. late run to pick students up from clubs or classes. The late runs that will still be offered will run a longer route and contain more students.

A statement from the district said the adjustments will save $163,000 next year.

Having a growing number of students on each bus without an aide isn’t something that drivers are looking forward to after already carrying more passengers than they would like.

A South Colonie bus driver for 15 years, Jack Pulver said that driving a bus full of kids is not an easy task. He added bus drivers have to drive, as well as watch the kids on the bus to ensure they are behaving properly.

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