Sunrise Smart Start: Tuesday, September 7

Sunrise Smart Start

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Stay up-to-date on the latest headlines in today’s Sunrise Smart Start on Tuesday September 7, 2021.

RCSD eliminates walker-bus program for students living within 1.5 miles of 3 schools

Due to a bus driver shortage, the Rochester City School District announced Monday that it would be eliminating the walker-bus program for students at three schools who reside within 1.5 miles of the school.

Students impacted live within the 1.5 mile radius of:

  • Dr. Walter Cooper Academy School No. 10
  • Enrico Fermi School No. 17
  • Abraham Lincoln School No. 22

The ongoing bus driver shortage already forced district officials to delay the start of the school year, and has officials considering a remote learning model for high schoolers as the district continues to navigate the transportation issue.

Parents, community members team together for rides amid RCSD bus crisis

The first day of school for Rochester schools will be a day late.
There’s still no finalized plan in place as of Monday to take thousands of kids back to school, as the district faces a major bus driver shortage.

In the meantime parents and members of the community are putting their heads together.

For Jasmine Holliman, this transportation crisis sparked an idea.

She says inspiration came from her ancestors, who organized ride shares during the Montgomery Bus Boycott ignited by Rosa Parks.

“I thought, why don’t we try this again and see if we can get this together and bring our community together,” said Holliman.

They created Bus Stop Roc, where parents can sign up and help transport kids to school.

Organizer Cheriese Bufis says they’re even working with local day cares to borrow vans that can fit up to 20 students.

Bus Stop Roc is taking donations that will go towards stipends, gas cards, masks, hand sanitizer and background checks for drivers.

If you’re interested in donating or becoming a driver, email

Community donates new bicycles to RCSD students as transportation concerns pile up

Thousands of parents with children enrolled in the Rochester City School District await answers on what the first week of school will look like.

With less than four days until classroom doors reopen, the district remains short by over 70 bus drivers. RCSD board members held an emergency session tonight in hopes to find a solution — but in the meantime — local organizations are asking how they can help.

‘Conkey Cruisers’ is a community based organization that have offered free bicycles to kids in Rochester for almost ten years. With a transportation crisis in the district, they say they have the resources that could help.

Theresa Bowick founded Conkey Cruisers out of her desire to make the community a better place. On Sunday, community members donated brand new bikes that await the hands of RCSD students.

The Rochester-Genesee regional transportation authority is holding a special meeting Tuesday. They’ll be discussing any possible changes within RTS to help the district amid this crisis.

Gov. Hochul signs Labor Day legislation to strengthen, protect New York’s workforce

Gov. Kathy Hochul held a Labor Day press conference Monday in Buffalo where she signed a number of laws designed to strengthen and protect the state’s workforce.

The governor began her briefing by quoting notable labor author Samuel Gompers, the first and longest-serving president of the American Federation of Labor (AFL).

“I was reflecting on what Samuel Gompers wrote,” Gov. Hochul said. “He was a strong advocate for making Labor Day a national holiday, and I was struck at what he said back then. He said ‘the struggle with labor is to free men’ — and I’m going to add women — ‘free men and women from unfair, unjust, and unnecessarily cruel environments and burdens.’ Doesn’t that resonate today, too?”

The governor signed four laws Monday, laws that she says will boost workplace safety and put more money in the pockets of working New Yorkers, including:

  • Establishing a demonstration program to implement speed violation monitoring systems in work zones to keep workers safe.
  • Make construction contractors liable for the wages owed to their subcontractors.
  • Require the payment of prevailing wage to building service employees at high-end co-ops and condos and.
  • Extension of shared work benefits.

NY DOL revise part-time employment benefit requirements, offer free resources

The New York State Department of Labor announced it will be offering residents multiple free resources to help them transition back into the workforce.

Some of the resources focus on assisting New Yorkers with career exploration like JobZoneresume assistanceinterview insight, and much more. Job seekers in every region of the state can learn about virtual career fairs, workshops, and classes by visiting DOL’s Career Calendar.

The Department will be partnering with other state agencies such as the Department of Transportation to host virtual recruitment events to highlight and recruit for positions within the New York State government.

New Yorkers who are out of work and looking to upskill or explore other career paths can also increase and expand their skills through the State’s online learning platform, and by utilizing the State University of New York’s ‘SUNY FOR ALL’ free Online Training Center.

In addition, DOL has strengthened their Shared Work Program, which enables employers to avoid layoffs by allowing workers to receive partial Unemployment Insurance benefits while working reduced hours. The required paperwork for the program has been reduced and they have improved the plan approval and certification processes.

DOL will continue to host a series of webinars for businesses using part-time work and Shared Work as recovery tools. The webinars are marketed through chambers of commerce, business groups, social media and directly to businesses.

Veteran services saying ‘purpose’ could be key in suicide crisis

September 5 kicks off National Suicide Prevention and Awareness Week, and one community that deals with that topic on a daily basis is our nation’s veterans. In the US, we lose around 22 each day to suicide. News 8 spoke with Veteran Services at the County, and the Veterans Outreach Center, to see what the underlying causes may be — and what solutions exist. 

Traditionally, Nick Stefanovic with veteran services says Veterans Affairs is the ‘go-to’ for mental health treatment. 

“Know that the VA is limited in their capacity and we can do more,” he says.

Stefanovic says thankfully we have a number of additional resources here like the Veterans Outreach Center. Giving a veteran ‘purpose’ he says is key.

“When you get out of the military, many of us, we can’t find our way towards having that purpose again. Having that purpose in life removed can be crushing to somebody. So the answer is opportunity. We have to go beyond sitting down with veterans in an office and talking about their feelings. We have to be willing to work through and be willing to present opportunities to them. Opportunities for jobs, opportunities for meaning in their lives,” he says.

Laura Stradley with the VOC says purpose is a big part of the solution. “I think providing purpose is hugely important though and that’s one of the things you hear veterans say most often,” she says.

It’s something the VOC does every day through therapy programs and employment opportunities, but that said, “It’s so complicated and it’s so unique to every individual,” Stradley adds.

Weather forecast: Back to work and school Tuesday as sunshine dominates

Tuesday looks beautiful with abundant sunshine and highs spiking to around 80 degrees. Another front will sweep by Tuesday night with a decaying line of strong thunderstorms approaching by midnight.

We suspect these storms will weaken substantially by the time it arrives Wednesday morning, nixing any threat for severe weather locally. Still, we’ll have showers around Wednesday morning with breezy and cooler conditions again working in. This will keep us cool Thursday and Friday.

Don’t buy into this cooler air being permanent just yet, however. Climatology tells us we still have plenty of warmth to expect through September and even October. Indeed, the longer range patter after this week seems to favor another push of warmer air into WNY next week.

As we march deeper into September, we’ll really start noticing Fall color picking up. Parts of the Southern Tier are already turning and it won’t be long before the rest of us catch up!

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