The National School Transportation Association (NSTA) is calling upon Congress during the coronavirus pandemic to either require states to maintain funding of school bus services that private contractors provide to school districts, or pass a $2.8 billion bailout.
In a letter sent to leaders of both parties in the House and Senate, NSTA Executive Director Curt Macysyn described two possible plans to maintain funding to school bus transportation employees during the school closures caused by the Chinese coronavirus:
The first would entail “a directive edict or declaration” that a condition to receiving additional federal funds would be to maintain current funding of school bus contractors, while schools remain closed. A second proposal would appropriate the emergency funding so contractors can continue paying approximately 250,000 transportation employees, including school bus drivers, “to maintain student welfare through extraordinary sanitizing measures and maintain the integrity of their fleets and companies.”
In a second letter to the governors of all 50 states and U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, Macysyn stated:
These are extraordinary times, and we urge you to take immediate action that directs state Departments of Education to require their school districts to continue to pay for pupil transportation funding for a 180-day school year, in the event of any reduction in transportation days. These funds are already allocated in State budgets and a mechanism is currently in place to distribute these funds.
Our concern lies within our desire to maintain a sound student transportation infrastructure through this health crisis, a system that requires us to be prepared to re-engage immediately after this unprecedented interruption to the school year. It will not serve the schoolchildren of this country to have 38 percent of available student transportation options eliminated after this crisis subsides.
Macysyn noted to the congressional leaders that California, Illinois, and Minnesota have put in motion a process to continue funding.
According to NSTA, the American Bus Association and the United Motorcoach Association are also seeking “$10 billion on congressional grant funds and $5 billion in zero-percent interest rate loans to the commercial bus industry.”