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    NYC back to school: Gov. Hochul addresses possible bus driver strike, teacher shortage


    NEW YORK CITY (WABC) — As children in the nation’s largest school district prepare to go back to school on Thursday, Gov. Kathy Hochul addressed concerns over teacher staffing and a potential bus driver strike.

    New York City schools have been preparing for a host of challenges, including a looming bus driver strike, the influx of migrant students and rising cases of COVID-19.

    Hochul said Wednesday that a bus driver strike would be “cataclysmic” and her office is working very hard to prevent that from happening. She called on both sides to work through it.

    On the eve of the first day of school, teacher staffing is also of great concern — especially with the influx of new students due to the migrant crisis.

    Hochul joined UFT President Michael Mulgrew in Lower Manhattan at the union’s headquarters to announce new legislation and the first round of funding of a $30 million investment in rebuilding the teacher workforce.

    It also comes as migrant children entering the city will be enrolled in public schools and that may present a challenge for teachers who only speak English.

    “I think language is going to be a challenge in the early days, we can’t always find someone who has the exact language the children were raised in,” Hochul said. “We have real challenges, they are coming from West Africa, South and Central America, we cant just assume that Spanish is going to cover everybody, it doesn’t come close.”

    About 500 new students in temporary housing have enrolled in New York City public schools this summer, according to Schools Chancellor David Banks.

    “They are still coming every day,” Banks said.

    The vast majority of the 19,000 asylum seekers in the system enrolled during the last school year.

    There is no problem with space because 120,000 families disenrolled from the public school system during the pandemic. The challenge is placing students near their residences. Banks said many of the schools near where migrant families are living are reaching capacity.

    Hochul says for the budget next year, they will look at the bigger picture. Recruiting more teachers with different languages will remain a priority.

    RELATED | Back to School: Academic Recovery Town Hall

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