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WA School Bus Drivers' Aid Plan for Students Stalled

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The Renton school district serves about 15,500 students. (Marc Sanchez/Adobe Stock)
The Renton school district serves about 15,500 students. (Marc Sanchez/Adobe Stock)
 By Eric Tegethoff - Producer, Contact
October 12, 2020

RENTON, Wash. -- School bus drivers want to help students struggling during the pandemic, but drivers in the Renton school district feel like their plans to provide more aid have been stymied.

Beth DeCou is a driver in the district and president of the American Federation of Teachers Local 6367. She said the district should take full advantage of Gov. Jay Inslee's emergency proclamation from July allowing buses to deliver things like meals, school supplies and technology.

DeCou wants drivers to deliver fresh meals five days a week, especially to students in far-flung parts of the district.

"There are bus stop areas that we had, where those kids always had walked to those bus stops on their own because they're close to home and we could deliver from there - with nutrition service workers with us to deliver the food - and we were told no," DeCou explained.

Randy Matheson, spokesperson for the Renton School District, said the district serves meals to an average of 1,500 students two days a week.

He said the district also is exploring a meal pick-up program and delivery service by school bus route for families with exceptional needs. The district serves about 15,500 students.

DeCou pointed to the story of a single mom she works with in the district who is having a hard time. The mom takes public transportation to work and can't get to one of the 24 sites the district has set up.

"As a mom with three children, two of them in the school district, she can't get to the food so she's struggling to, you know, try to keep her kids fed," DeCou reported.

DeCou added drivers in the district are eager to help students.

"Our duty as adults in this district is to make sure our children are taken care of," DeCou vowed. "That's all I want everyone to know. We need to do this."

Disclosure: American Federation of Teachers of Washington contributes to our fund for reporting on Budget Policy and Priorities, Early Childhood Education, Education, and Livable Wages/Working Families. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
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