Utica Schools must postpone hybrid learning plan

The Utica City School District will not start implementing in-person hybrid learning next week as planned, due to a bus driver shortage.

Posted: Oct 27, 2020 10:14 PM

UTICA, N.Y. - The Utica City School District will not start implementing in-person hybrid learning next week as planned, due to a bus driver shortage.

According to district officials, Birnie Bus, the company that provides transportation for the Utica schools, says they don't have enough drivers for the increased number of routes required for social distancing on buses.

The district's hybrid plan was supposed to start with 127 bus routes to accommodate two cohorts of elementary students and right now, they only have 96 drivers. They are 31 drivers short.

Plus, the company does not have substitute drivers and they should have a 15% overage of substitute coverage or at least 19 drivers in addition to the 31 drivers they are currently short.

According to the company, they are 50 drivers short including the 31 bus routes that are not covered and the approximate 19 drivers necessary for adequate substitute coverage.

District superintendent, Bruce Karam says without the company's ability to fulfill their contractual obligations by ensuring the 127 drivers necessary to transport elementary students, along with a contingency plan for the required number of substitute drivers, the school district will not be able to begin their phased-in hybrid plan.

"It's disappointing," Karam said. "We were prepared, we've done everything we needed to do but the bus company did not have sufficient drivers in order to meet all the routes that are necessary to pick up the students and over 75% of our students are bused, so you're looking at between 4,000 to 5,000 students for elementary only."

Steven Falchi, administrative director of curriculum and instruction, says the bus company previously assured the district that they had enough drivers.

“This information is contrary to what company officials had told the district during planning meetings that were held throughout the summer and into September," Falchi said. "There were eight planning meetings with Birnie Bus since July. Throughout the summer, the number of bus drivers had steadily increased to well over 100 with 25 to 30 additional drivers on a call back list according to company management.”

Until the company can guarantee sufficient drivers to provide necessary transportation, Utica students will continue with remote instruction only.

New York Coronavirus Cases

County data is updated nightly.

Cases: 602120

Reported Deaths: 34339
CountyCasesDeaths
Queens862467341
Kings851087485
Bronx613165035
Nassau571272241
Suffolk568652035
Westchester472621500
New York426643221
Erie21572762
Richmond212131118
Rockland20708692
Orange15987517
Monroe12771313
Onondaga9362222
Dutchess6728183
Albany5148148
Broome4927133
Oneida4210146
Niagara3213103
Ulster307398
Chemung270232
Putnam247264
Schenectady213655
Sullivan209348
Saratoga196919
Steuben159987
Rensselaer152850
Chautauqua140316
Oswego12736
Ontario112937
Tioga104348
Wayne96712
Columbia96556
Tompkins9360
Cortland9071
Cattaraugus90124
Allegany85649
Madison82118
Genesee8008
Cayuga7357
St. Lawrence6786
Greene63318
Livingston6178
Herkimer58211
Chenango57810
Orleans57656
Warren54335
Otsego5298
Fulton45428
Jefferson4352
Washington43014
Clinton4285
Wyoming4195
Montgomery39612
Delaware3149
Lewis3069
Schuyler2713
Seneca2535
Essex25014
Franklin2395
Yates2397
Schoharie1762
Hamilton391
Out of NY0118
Unassigned018
Utica
Clear
29° wxIcon
Hi: 37° Lo: 26°
Feels Like: 29°
Oneonta
Clear
28° wxIcon
Hi: 36° Lo: 26°
Feels Like: 28°
Herkimer
Clear
29° wxIcon
Hi: 37° Lo: 26°
Feels Like: 29°
Thendara
Clear
29° wxIcon
Hi: 29° Lo: 20°
Feels Like: 29°
WKTV Radar
WKTV Temperatures
WKTV Severe Weather
Click here to learn more about A Healthier Mohawk Valley
Thanksgiving Sweepstakes
Stuff the Bus Locations
Saluting Those Who Are Proud 2 Serve