LAS CRUCES, New Mexico – A bus company plans to say ‘Adios!’ to Las Cruces Public Schools next week.
But the District filed a temporary restraining order against First Student Incorporated to prevent this from happening.
Parents are worried what this means for their son or daughter getting to school? and bus drivers fear they could be without a job.
Superintendent Stan Rounds announced bus ridership is down 3,000 kids. This translates to 1.2 million dollars less this school year for the company.
“We did not expect this,” Pancho Morales, bus driver, said.
Another bus driver expressed surprise at the move.
“Speaking from a bus driver’s point of view, we are currently shocked,” Alvin Busby, another bus driver, said.
“Quite honestly, this was quite a surprise to us,” Superintendent Rounds said.
A surprise to the Las Cruces Public School District…and news to First Student Inc. employees who spent the day washing buses, preparing for the return to work after spring break.
“But we are mainly concerned with the fact that, are we going to have a job til the end of the school year,” Busby said. “And is the school system going to guarantee that for us?”
Superintendent Rounds says, First Student Inc. notified the District Tuesday of plans the company has to terminate their contract as of March 31st.
Rounds says First Student Inc. is obligated until June to transport 9,200 LCPS students to and from school.
“I’m especially concerned about the 44 special needs buses,” Rounds said. “Kids in wheelchairs need to have special accommodations. That’s what we do – we have lift buses that take them to and from? I don’t want any parents to be concerned there won’t be bus service ? I really believe we will figure a way to assure students will not be stranded at the bus stop.”
“We don’t know where we stand,” Morales said. “And we really want to know, do we have this job or look somewhere else or do we wait here and assume we have a job.”
All 190 First Student Inc. employees could face lay offs.
First Student Inc. has provided service for LCPS District since 2008.
Superintendent Rounds says, the company appeared to have a strong track record.
Rounds adds, the temporary restraining order requires buses to operate at least through April 6th but come Wednesday the District will know for sure if wheels are still turning.
Attempts to reach First Student Inc. by ABC-7 for comment were not successful.