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The local school boards are optimistic they can find a middle ground with Southwestern Ontario Student Transportation Services before September 4th, but they're encouraging parents to be prepared just in case.

OXFORD COUNTY - With only two weeks left of summer, parents across the region are getting panicked about the potential of a school bus strike. 
 
At a conference yesterday, Thames Valley District School Board and the London District Catholic School Board sent a strong warning to parents. It detailed the possibility that the school boards won't reach a new labour deal with Southwestern Ontario Student Transportation Services before the first day of school.

TVDSB Associate Director and Treasurer Jeff Pratt is optimistic that everything will work out.

"We offered 10 percent to the bus operators as a starting point, to get them to commit to running busses on the first day of school. From there we would enter into good faith negotiations utilizing a mediator to really work through all the issues. Coming to an agreement, a negotiated contract will take a considerable amount of time, certainly more time than the two weeks we have before school."

LDCSB Superintendent of Business and Treasurer Jacquie Davidson is also trying to look on the brightside, but is warning parents to prepare for the worst.

"The bus companies have indicated that they're ready and willing to start negotiations and so are we. We're all motivated to make sure we have busses for September 4th. We're just cautioning parents that in the likelihood that there isn't, they do need to have a backup plan."

They suggest the idea of carpooling with other families. Pratt understands the toll this strike will take on parents and guardians.

"It is going to be a hardship and we will do everything we can to develop contingency plans, working with our local schools to help support parents and guardians through this process."

Davidson the talks will continue over the next couple of days.

"I think at this point we're taking a pause in negotiations. We'll be meeting as a group in the next few days; figuring out the best way to approach the gap that we have to bridge. Hopefully we'll come up with a plan to do that."

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