First Student bus strike causes turmoil at Clark Magnet


Mr. Nick Doom​

Buses of all shapes and sizes were being used for the bus strike.

It was just a normal Thursday morning at Clark, until students walked through the front door. “It was absolutely surreal,” said Alen Avunjian, a senior at Clark. “I’ve been here for four years now and I have never seen anything like this.”

Avunjian and the rest of Clark students and parents were notified less than an hour before the opening bell last Thursday that First Student bus drivers had gone on strike that morning. The school administrators directed the traffic onslaught from parents driving their kids to school. “It was an interesting experience,” said Assistant Principal Dr. Brian Landisi. “I’m just proud that our Clark students stepped up and came to school, even with the bus strike.”

As the bus strike progressed into this week, the administration continued notifying the students and parents when buses would be available. Of the 13 buses, only Bus 105 continued to operate the first couple of days during the strike.

The official comment that Clark Magnet Publications got from the First Student Headquarters in Ohio was this: “Negotiations between First Student and the bus drivers union is still ongoing, with details such as wage and sick days still being the major roadblock to the end of the strike. For now, students will unfortunately have to find their own transportation until this issue is resolved.”

“It’s extremely frustrating,” said Sebastian Velasquez, a senior at Clark. “I need this bus to take me to and from school, and with it being out, it forces my parents to leave work and pick me up, something they cannot keep on doing.”

As of January 23, eight buses have now become available for Clark students to use for transportation, which is roughly half of the buses that usually come to the school.

Around 70 percent of the students at Clark ride the bus, according to Landisi. Since the school’s inception in 1998, First Student bus drivers have never gone on strike. This strike has also been affecting school in neighboring districts such as Pasadena Unified School District, with 1,200 students being forced to find another method of transportation.

However, the views are different from a bus driver perspective. One bus driver who showed up to Clark on Monday said, “I do sympathize with the cause of the strike, with us not nearly getting enough benefits and bonuses that we need to thrive. However, I still need to earn the money I can, which is why I am working today instead of striking.”