Lakota School Bus Strike: Parents hopeful after tentative agreement reached

Bus drivers and Petermann Transportation came to a tentative agreement on a new contract, ending a bus strike at Lakota Local School District.
Published: Sep. 6, 2023 at 6:04 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 7, 2023 at 6:01 AM EDT
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BUTLER COUNTY, Ohio (WXIX) - Parents whose children attend Lakota Local Schools are hopeful the district’s bus drivers are about to return to work.

Union reps for bus drivers and the district’s transportation provider, Petermann Transportation, issued a joint statement Wednesday saying a tentative agreement was reached in their contract dispute that sent drivers to the picket line.

The announcement came after both parties met with a federal mediator.

Drivers could be back on the road as soon as Friday morning if they vote Thursday to ratify their new, 3-year contract.

Details about the contract are not being released until after the vote, according to their joint statement, so it’s not clear if the issue that prompted the strike remains in the contract, was removed or reworked.

Bus drivers objected to Petermann being able to monitor them on the job at any time, not just in the event of a complaint, and use that to discipline them.

The school bus strike in Greater Cincinnati’s second-largest school district with more than 17,000 students caught families off guard.

They were left straining to find ways to get students to and from class and other activities.

They’ve also had to endure congested and lengthy school drop-offs and pick-ups.

“You send out group texts, you know, ‘Who needs a ride?’” said one parent, Kelly Nolte. “Thankfully, my husband and I have worked it out so that we can be there either way, so we just pick up kids (at) three different schools. We manage.”

“It will be ideal if the bus drivers can get back to work,” said another parent, Bianca Mitchell. “If not, I’m sure it will be an additional strain on parents and the community.”

Other parents wanted to know why this dispute wasn’t worked out over the summer instead of now, which is probably the most inconvenient time for all: the first few weeks of the new school year.

Wednesday was the sixth day of the strike.

It started on Thursday, Aug. 31 when bus drivers overwhelmingly voted to reject their new contract.

They began to picket before dawn the following day.

Here is the joint agreement released by the bus drivers’ union and Petermann:

Lakota Interim Superintendent Elizabeth Lolli thanked families in an email Wednesday for “continued support, patience and willingness to pitch in” over the last few days.

Here is her communication to parents:

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