NEW YORK CITY - New York City’s approximately one million public school students began a new school year Thursday, a year that immediately presents unique challenges.
Potential school bus drivers strike
First, the specter of a school bus drivers strike looms, as a work stoppage would impact over 80,000 students.
"That would be rather cataclysmic," Gov. Kathy Hochul said.
Department of Education officials are already developing contingency plans in the event of a strike.
Buses will run Thursday and Friday, although a strike could begin as soon as Monday. More negotiations are planned for tomorrow.
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Amid the labor negotiations, the drivers’ union delayed the yearly process that allows drivers to select their routes, Chancellor David Banks said. So some drivers may be unfamiliar.
"We want to make parents and families aware that they may, in fact, experience come disruptions and delays," Banks said.
‘We have room in our system’
Another challenge is the complexity of educating the influx of migrant children.
Since the end of the last school year, 21,000 students in temporary housing, including many migrants, have been enrolled in schools across the five boroughs.
According to Banks, right now, the city’s schools can handle it.
"We have room in our system," he said.
Banks argued there would be more of an effort to spread students around to prevent overcrowding at specific schools, and bottom line, the city has a duty to educate all kids who are in the city.
"We need to take care of these children in front of us. So that’s gonna be the challenge all year," Michael Mulgrew, president of the United Federation of Teachers, said at an event Wednesday morning.