When I first read the article “Bus Contractor Responds to Concerns” (Yorktown News), I didn’t know if I should laugh or cry. But then I felt my blood pressure rising and knew I needed to respond and set the record straight.
Since September 2014, I had been a bus driver for Yorktown with Baumann and Sons. I loved the job, connected well with the kids on the bus, and always took my job extremely serious. Before each run, I would say a little prayer for the kids to get safe to school or back home. The kids’ safety was always my only priority. That being said, the ONLY ONE to blame for the current problem is the Yorktown School District and its superintendent, Dr. Ron Hattar.
In case you missed previous articles in this paper, here is a little recap: When COVID-19 hit us in March and schools closed, Yorktown decided to not follow through with their contract and stopped paying Baumann. Their excuse was that Baumann was an outside contractor and because buses were not rolling, therefore Baumann should not get paid. This then resulted in all Baumann employees to be laid off (which included losing all our benefits) and eventually Baumann filing for bankruptcy by May 1.
Originally, when I spoke to this paper in April, I was quoted as saying, “Baumann is the only one to blame,” which I wish to correct into “Yorktown is the only one to blame.” At the time, I was pressured by our union rep to under no circumstances put any fault on the Yorktown School District. After all, “they were on our side” (quote of union rep). Unfortunately, that proved to not be the case. As a 26-year Yorktown resident, I know too well how long Baumann had been serving this community. I also know that Baumann was always giving Yorktown the best deal, and it’s why they were around for such a long time.
Meanwhile, Baumann, knowing it was difficult to get and keep drivers, it had to offer a decent contract to keep them there. One of those benefits was 42 weeks of work guaranteed per school year, which covers the school year minus the summer break. But all that didn’t matter to Yorktown, and so they decided to “throw us all under the bus!”
Meanwhile, Yorktown had $6 million set aside in their 2019-2020 school budget for transportation. Divided by 10 months in a school year, that’s approximately $500,000.00/month. So, where did the almost $2 million go for March through June, since Baumann was not going to get paid?
Then in June, when the 2020-2021 school budget needed to be voted on, Yorktown’s lack of transparency was astonishing. This paper mentioned weeks ahead that Yorktown would place the Zoom link for the budget hearing on June 8 on the district’s website the weekend before the Monday hearing. For three days, myself and several other Yorktown residents searched the website, but no link to be found? Then came the vote by mail-in ballot, resulting in a 2,442 YES votes and 892 NO votes (out of a population of 36,394). Aren’t our school taxes already high enough? And do most Yorktown residents really don’t seem to care where there money is going?
For Dr. Hattar to complain now and trying to shove the blame onto the new bus company, who by the way literally only had a few weeks to prepare, is simply unfair!
For months, none of us heard from the district, rumors were even going around that Baumann would sell the yard. And yes, several drivers chose not to return and retire instead. Others, including myself, didn’t want to take a chance and found work elsewhere. After all, what will happen if the virus would make a comeback in the winter? Will the untrustworthy Yorktown repeat itself? Will drivers again lose their benefits? Go back on unemployment?
I never hold any grudges against anybody and I am blessed to have found a new job. For the rest, I will stick to what my mother always used to say: “Let it be. What goes around, comes around.”