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School districts: Bus company could go on strike Tuesday

Four Long Island school districts -- Freeport, Baldwin,

Four Long Island school districts -- Freeport, Baldwin, Hicksville and Rockville Centre -- are warning of a potential strike by workers for the Baumann Bus Company. Credit: James Carbone

Four Nassau school districts are warning parents of a possible school bus strike that could begin Tuesday afternoon.

The Freeport, Baldwin, Hicksville and Rockville Centre districts all have posted notices on their websites about the potential strike by workers for the Baumann Bus Company.

Freeport schools Superintendent Kishore Kuncham said he believed a strike Tuesday was unlikely, but said he’d ordered the alert on the district website and robocalls to be made so parents could make arrangements for child care and transportation.

All four districts are served by the Ronkonkoma-based Baumann, which is negotiating with drivers represented by TWU Local 252.

“If buses are not going to be coming, there is going to be chaos around all the schools with parents coming to pick up their children,” Kuncham said in an interview Monday night. “We are concerned, and we are really hoping that all of them [the bus company and the union] make the right decision and take into account the best interest of the children.”

Neither Baumann nor union officials could be immediately reached Monday night.

Kuncham said that he heard from Baumann last Friday about a possible strike. He said he spoke Monday morning with a labor attorney for the union, who told him drivers would not strike Tuesday but may demonstrate. Baumann and the union will meet in a mediation session Wednesday, Kuncham said.

A strike would affect more than 5,000 students in Freeport alone, including those who attend public schools, Kellenberg Memorial High School, De La Salle School, and Freeport Christian Academy, according to Freeport’s notice.

Kuncham said he was pressing Baumann to find alternate transportation for his students in the event of a strike, and had talked with another company that also buses some Freeport students about filling in on an emergency basis. But, he said, few companies in the area were able to expand service with such short notice. “Nobody’s going to give you 50 buses,” he said.

In Hicksville, where the board of education met about the possible bus strike in emergency session over the weekend, district officials said in a web notice to parents that they expected bus service to be provided Tuesday as normal.

As a precaution, though, schools will be open for parents to drop off students as early as 6:30 a.m., and students will have supervised care until 6:30 p.m., Hicksville’s notice said.

In 2015, previous labor trouble between Baumann and another union threatened about 15,000 students in 35 districts in Nassau and Suffolk counties, but a strike was averted.

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