Las Cruces school bus drivers strike, excused absences for kids

Protests

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — School bus drivers in Las Cruces have gone on strike, shutting down much of the public school transportation system that serves 3,500 students. Current drivers picketed the office of southern New Mexico district school bus contractor STS New Mexico on Thursday, demanding better pay and working conditions, the Las Cruces Sun-News reports.


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Bus driver shortages have strained schools across the state, as education officials struggle to hire and train more workers. Some offer free training, signing bonuses and other perks for new employees. The shortage has led the company to push mechanics into driving service, meaning there aren’t mechanics to fix buses when they break down, a bus driver union representative told the Sun-News.

“We’re just going to do the best that we can do,” STS General Manager Van Wamel told the paper.

“This shift in focus is unfortunate, but we are confident that it is temporary,” Las Cruces Public Schools Superintendent Ralph Ramos said in a statement. District officials told parents by text message Thursday to “please make alternative transportation arrangements if possible.”

The school also notified parents Wednesday evening, said spokeswoman Kelly Jameson, adding that children who cannot make it to school will be provided online work and an excused absence. STS did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Associated Press on Thursday.

Jameson said that special education students with transportation specified in their individualized learning plans won’t be affected by the strike.

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Attanasio is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on under-covered issues. Follow Attanasio on Twitter.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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