AMSTERDAM, NY (NEWS10) — There’s always a bit of a school rush with a touch of scrambling, but even the most prepared families in the Greater Amsterdam School District are now thrown for a loop. Parents say it wasn’t until that first full week of school that they fully realized the district would no longer bus students to and from certain daycares.
“[I’m] frustrated, and it’s really unfair for parents who have to work very early in the morning. I really need transportation,” says Cindy Ramos, mother of one son and daycare educator at Sunshine Kids Corner.
Parents told NEWS10 in 2021 that they had been told Greater Amsterdam would be redistributed to reassign pupils to schools closer to home. At that time, it was also announced that buses would only drop off and pick them up from their homes, designated school stops or fully licensed child care centres.
However, these irate caregivers say the district never informed them that starting this school year, buses would no longer pick up or drop off a student at a daycare outside of their designated school area.
“I haven’t even received a letter about any change, and [my son] I was even supposed to get a bus pass, but I didn’t even get it,” Ramos says.
“I’m inundated with phone calls. When I tell you that I wake up every morning with 30 phone calls, 30 text messages, everyone asks me if you heard anything from school, what the people on the bus said, and it’s quite disheartening when I have to tell them no,” says Kristian DiCateino, who co-owns Sunshine Kids Corner and Memory Lane Daycare with his wife Jessica.
NEWS10 found the transport request form on the Greater Amsterdam School District webpage. It says students can be bused “outside the boundaries of their home school, but preferably close to their home address”. Now that that no longer appears to be the case, the parents say they are furious with Superintendent Richard Ruberti for the lack of notice.
“Why can he dictate where I put my money to pay for my child’s daycare?” asks a mother who contacted NEWS10 anonymously.
This woman says not only have her children been alienated from their friends and teachers at Tecler Elementary at McNulty Academy, but she has been told that starting September 23, buses will no longer transport her children to and from Building Blocks Childcare because it is in the Tecler area.
“I couldn’t go to work without childcare, because school doesn’t open until 8.40am. My work starts at 8am and childcare options [offered] by school doesn’t include school holidays, teachers’ working days, bad weather, but I still have to work,” she told NEWS10’s Mikhaela Singleton.
She further adds that she has a very good reason for not sending her children back to the daycare which is in her area of residence.
“There was an incident and I pulled my kids, so why do I have to put my kids in a dangerous environment to help you get on the bus?” she asks.
NEWS10 has contacted several area daycares who all say neither they nor any of the parents they serve have received notice from the school district about the change. They are now faced with hosting too many or too few children as they are displaced.
DiCateino says he and his wife risk losing about half of the approximately 90 children they serve between Sunshine and Memory Lane. He says they are already reimbursing parents who can no longer use their services without a bus.
“We start [registration and deposits] early June and July. We know what we have. These people were not informed,” he said. “We serve healthcare workers, warehouse workers, people in distribution centers, and they cannot drop a child off at school at 7 a.m. when their work starts at 7 a.m. . We open at 5:30am, but if they can’t be sure their child will be picked up by a bus, what are they going to do? These people have to work! It’s just a mess.
He describes the situation as “a bad onion” revealing more rot as each layer is revealed.
“Even though these parents can make adjustments, their jobs have to adjust the schedules around them not being there to pick up and drop off. They let their children walk? You’re going to have people calling CPS on those kids walking two miles to school. This CPS employee could be focusing on something much more important,” says DiCateino.
Ramos serves as the head teacher supervising the infants and usually opens the Sunshine Kids Corner every morning at 5:30 a.m. Because of this, she usually brings her son to work with her and watches the bus come to take him to school around 8:00 a.m. Already, she says that this road has stopped coming for him and it could jeopardize his work.
“I could waste hours and it could waste money when I get home. I could also lose my job,” Ramos says.
“Now my schedule is all affected. There are 15 children in my own room here who are dependent on this teacher’s presence and eagerly awaiting her arrival. I cannot enter now, due to the situation of the bus,” adds his boss, DiCateino.
NEWS10 has contacted Superintendent Ruberti several times and is still awaiting his response.