HRSB backs off request to have caretakers monitor bus schedules
The Halifax Regional School Board has backed off from a request that school caretakers monitor arrival times for school buses. Ron Stockton of the Nova Scotia Union of Public Employees – the union representing caretakers – found out about the request on Dec. 6. He says he at first thought it was just one school.
“We wrote to the school board asking what the reason was, and indicated to them it didn’t sound like the type of thing union members should be doing,” Stockton says.
Stockton was uneasy with the idea of having its membership spying on drivers. He believes it is part of a larger campaign to gather information on employees, which Stockton feels is an invasion of privacy. The school board responded that it needed the information without explaining why. Eventually, the school board backed down.
“On (Wednesday) the school board issued a memo to our members saying, ‘You don’t have to do this, thanks, we’re withdrawing our request. Sorry for the confusion,’” says Stockton.
In a statement to CTV News, Doug Hadley of the Halifax Regional School Board confirmed they asked caretakers to record arrival and departure times.
“Knowing that teachers and administrators are busy with students once classes begin, we reached out to caretakers, for the first time, to assist with gathering this information,” Hadley said in the statement. “In-person monitoring of our contracts is not a new practice. It’s just one of the ways we gather information.”
Terry Lowe, a spokesperson for Stock Transportation, says they were unaware their drivers were being monitored by caretakers.
“We have been working jointly with HRSB to achieve satisfactory on-time performance. This week, our buses to the C.P. Allen family of schools are averaging 98 per cent on-time arrivals. We strive for 100 per cent and will continue to work on route improvements,” says Lowe in a statement to CTV News.
Lowe says Stock is working with the school board to address scheduling issues at Charles P. Allen High School.
“All schools and families have been notified of these changes. We will continue to monitor the routes and make adjustments where needed,” Lowe said in the statement.
Many parents in Bedford say the accurate on-time arrival times have resulted in numerous changes to bus schedules.
“It’s still a little late,” says parent Mike Hammoud. “I think the bus shows up somewhere around 8:17, 8:18, and I think the scheduled time is between 8:10 and 8:13.”
Despite the confusion, the union representing caretakers insists they do not want their members to be included in ensuring buses arrive on schedule.