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San Francisco Unified School District Stops Payment On Contract Employing Hundreds Of Bus Drivers

flickr user Jennifer Woodard Maderazo accessed via Wikimedia Commons
An IC Bus RE200 school bus operated by school bus contractor First Student in San Francisco, California

EDITOR'S NOTE: A previous version of this story contained errors that have been corrected. It incorrectly stated that SFUSD laid off bus drivers and that the district ended its contract. The drivers were not laid off by SFUSD, because they are contracted through First Student. SFUSD has stopped payment because the district does not currently require bus drivers.


Nearly 260 bus drivers serving the San Francisco school district will lose their jobs at the end of August as part of pandemic-related cutbacks. 

Back in March, SFUSD halted transportation services for San Francisco schools due to COVID-19. They continued paying for the bus drivers through July. But now, with the school district facing deep budget cuts and teaching happening only through distance learning, SFUSD has decided to stop payments on its contract.


Spokeswoman Laura Dudnick said:


"We are only paying for services rendered and we do not need the services at this time."


The company that employs the bus drivers is called First Student, Inc. The school district pays them $30 million annually to bus SFUSD students to and from school. First Student said it will extend laid-off bus drivers’ healthcare through September.


Sharon Chappill is the president of SMART 1741, the local union that represents SFUSD bus drivers. She said:


We have serviced the city of San Francisco for 50 years. We do not think it too much to ask that the city find a way to provide for us a few more months, or until we return to school.


The union is organizing a rally this Thursday in front of the San Francisco City Hall to protest the layoffs.


Noor Bouzidi is an intern with KALW. Her reporting interests are housing insecurity, immigration, economy, and all issues around systemic poverty in California.