CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - A bus driver strike at Lakota Local Schools has been avoided.
District officials had said a tentative agreement had been reached earlier this week, though a strike was still possible pending a new vote. An agreement has been reached as of Tuesday at 7 p.m.
“This evening, Lakota Local Schools was notified that an agreement on an amended contract has been reached between its bus provider, Petermann Transportation, and its drivers. The negotiations have ended and a new contract is in place,” reads a statement from Superintendent Matthew Miller. “Lakota Schools will operate on its regular schedule with busing, which has been communicated to families. We appreciate the patience our families have shown us during this process and are happy to be moving forward.”
Miller addressed the controversy in a YouTube video Tuesday afternoon.
He says Petermann Transportation and the bus drivers informed the district that the agreement reached late Monday night is not official until the group votes on it Tuesday night.
Lakota had advised parents to be on the lookout for a separate email detailing specific drop-off and pick-up procedures in the event of a strike.
“Transportation for any students who utilize Lakota busing will begin this morning, as the bus drivers have agreed to return to work,” Lakota’s chief operations officer, Chris Passarge, said in a statement posted to Facebook about 2 a.m. Tuesday.
"Given the late hour in which the agreement was made, we are anticipating that some buses may be delayed. Additional staff will be on hand at all of our schools this morning to assist with arrival for those who have arranged alternative transportation for their children.
"Afternoon buses will run on the normal schedule.
“We apologize for the late notification throughout this entire ordeal. Transparency with our community is important to us, but we are only able to communicate official information that we receive, when we receive it.”
Union reps negotiated into the wee hours of the morning to see if they could come up with a contract both sides could agree to.
Late Monday, Passage had announced Petermann Transportation was unable to reach an agreement in contract negotiations with the drivers and the district would be unable to provide transportation to its families starting Tuesday morning.
Some parents, including those whose children attend private school in the district but still use Petermann’s buses, were notified via text message at 11:42 p.m. to begin driving their students to and from school.
Officials had said the district would operate on its regular schedule, though busing would not be available to any students who utilize Lakota school transportation until the drivers returned to work.
It included special education preschoolers and high-schoolers, as well as parochial school students.