MCKEESPORT, PA (KDKA) – Days before the school year starts, McKeesport Area School District is pushing back its start date and now might not have busing for students.
“It’s been difficult for bus companies. There’s a shortage of CDL drivers. There is not an infinite supply of buses. You now have a 70-passenger bus, you can only put 24 kids on,” said Ray Middleman.READ MORE: Steelers Will Not Hold Training Camp At Saint Vincent College This Year
Middleman represents Pennsylvania Coach Lines Inc. The company provides busing for nearly two dozen school districts, including McKeesport.
Last week, the school district filed a civil suit in the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas against the bus company over a $2.2 million bill.
“It was brewing back in April and May, we had discussions,” Middleman said.
According to the complaint, the school district did not pay the company for the last 52 days of the year, stating the buses were not used because of the coronavirus pandemic shutdown.
“While things escalated, we hadn’t been paid for last year so we put them on notice,” Middleman said.
Without a paid bill, Middleman said the district broke the transportation agreement and the bus company would not provide busing for the fall.READ MORE: Affidavit: FBI Feared Pennsylvania Would Seize Extremely Valuable Civil War-Era Gold
“Everyone needs to be on the same page and I think eventually we will get there. But I think right now in the process, there are still some bumps in the road,” Middleman said.
Middleman said the bus company also had issues with the school district’s original plan to return to school five days a week with morning and evening sessions.
“You are asking us to have a driver on the road 10 hours. So it’s going to double the cost of the driver, doubles the wear and tear of the bus, doubles the fuel cost,” Middleman said.
Middleman said this plan is not covered under the agreed-upon transportation agreement.
Late Friday, McKeesport school administrators made a change to the back-to-school plan. Starting Sept. 2, students will return to in-person classes with one abbreviated session starting at the normal school time.
Superintendent Dr. Mark Holtzman said the district made the changed the plan after an increased interest in the remote learning program, which allows the district to space out the students.
Middleman believes a signed resolution will be filed early next week, which will be beneficial to both parties and transportation would happen this fall.MORE NEWS: Kitten Stuck In Storm Drain Rescued By First Responders In Ambridge
KDKA’s calls to the school district’s attorney for comment went unanswered.