AMSTERDAM, N.Y. (NEWS10) — There’s always a bit of back to school rush with a touch of scramble, but even those most prepared families in the Greater Amsterdam School District are now thrown for a loop. Parents say it was only within this first full week of school that they fully realized the district would no longer bus students to and from certain childcare.
“[I’m] frustrated, and it’s really unfair for the parents that have to work really early in the morning. I really need the transportation,” says Cindy Ramos, mother to one son and a daycare teacher at Sunshine Kids Corner.
Parents tell NEWS10 back in 2021, they received notice Greater Amsterdam would be redistricting to reassign students to schools closer to their home addresses. At that time, it was also announced buses would only drop students off and pick them up from their homes, designated school stops, or fully licensed daycares.
However, these infuriated caregivers say the district never informed them that starting this school year, the buses would no longer pick up or drop off a student at any daycare outside the zone designated to their school.
“I didn’t even receive any letter about any kind of change, and [my son] even was supposed to get a bus card, but I didn’t even get that,” says Ramos.
“I’m flooded with phone calls. When I tell you that I wake up every morning to 30 phone calls, 30 texts, everyone asking me did you hear anything from the school, what did the bus people say, and it’s a pretty discouraging thing when I have to tell them no,” says Kristian DiCaterino, who co-owns both Sunshine Kids Corner and Memory Lane Daycare with his wife Jessica.
NEWS10 found the transportation request form on the Greater Amsterdam School District’s webpage. It states students can be bused “outside their home school boundary, but preferably close to their home address.” Now that this no longer seems to be the case, parents say they are furious with Superintendent Richard Ruberti over the lack of notice.
“Why does he get to dictate where I put my money to pay for my child to go to daycare?” asks one mother who contacted NEWS10 anonymously.
This woman says not only were her children moved away from their friends and teachers at Tecler Elementary to McNulty Academy, she’s been informed that starting September 23 the buses won’t transport her kids to and from Building Blocks Childcare because it is in the Tecler zone.
“I wouldn’t be able to go to work without childcare, because the school doesn’t open until 8:40 a.m. My job starts at 8 a.m. and the childcare options [offered] by the school don’t include school breaks, teacher work days, severe weather, but I still have to work,” she explains to NEWS10’s Mikhaela Singleton.
She further adds she has a very good reason not to send her children back to the daycare center that is in their home zone.
“There was an incident and I pulled my children, so why do I have to put my children in an unsafe environment to help your busing?” she asks.
NEWS10 reached out to several daycares in the area who all say neither they nor any the parents they serve received notice from the school district about the change. They now face taking in either too many or too few kids as they’re shuffled around.
DiCaterino says he and his wife stand to lose around half of the around 90 kids they serve between Sunshine and Memory Lane. He says they are already issuing refunds to parents who can no longer utilize their services without buses.
“We start [registration and deposits] in early June and July. We know what we have. These people were not informed,” he says. “We serve healthcare workers, warehouse workers, people in distribution centers, and they can’t drop a kid off at school at 7 a.m. when their work starts at 7 a.m. We open at 5:30 a.m., but if they can’t be sure their kid will be picked up by a bus, what are they gonna do? These people have to work! It’s just a mess.”
He describes the situation like “a bad onion” revealing more rot as each layer is revealed.
“Even if these parents can make adjustments, their jobs have to adjust schedules around them not being there for pick up and drop off. They let their kids walk? You’re going to get people calling CPS on these kids walking two miles to school. That CPS worker could be focusing on something much more important,” DiCaterino says.
Ramos serves as the head teacher supervising infants and usually opens Sunshine Kids Corner every morning at 5:30 a.m. Because of that, she usually brings her son to work with her and watches as the bus comes to take him to school around 8 a.m. Already, she says that route has stopped coming for him and it may jeopardize her job.
“I could be losing hours and that could be losing money when I come from home. I also could lose my job too,” Ramos says.
“Now my schedule is all affected. There’s 15 kids in my own rooms here that depend on that teacher to be there and look forward to her coming in. Can’t come in now, because of the bus situation,” her boss, DiCaterino, adds.
NEWS10 has reached out to Superintendent Ruberti multiple times and still await his response.