Between loss of salary due to the strike and money needed to get the kids to school, "I'm losing money," she said. "I don't think I have enough money to make it through the month."
Some buses were running Thursday because their drivers are not members of Local 1181, and the city Department of Education said 2,320 bus routes out of 7,700 were operating.
The department also said strikers tried to block buses from leaving 11 depots on Thursday. The union did not immediately return a call seeking comment.
School bus riders include 54,000 children with disabilities, many of them in wheelchairs, and attendance was down steeply among those students Wednesday and Thursday.
The 8,800 bus drivers and matrons who went on strike make an average of about $35,000 a year, with a driver starting at $14 an hour and potentially making as much as $29 an hour over time, according to Cordiello.
Some parents said the workers deserve that and they support the strike.
"Everybody wants to know that they have secure jobs, and we also want to know that our children are safe," said Tamika Hearn, who drove her third-grade daughter to Central Park East II School in Manhattan.
About a dozen parents and education activists rallied in support of the union in front of City Hall.
Johnnie Stevens said his son, Kwame, 10, who has Asperger's syndrome, feels comfortable with his bus driver and matron.
"Yesterday, he was crying, 'I don't want to go on the train. Why can't I take the bus?'" Stevens said. He ultimately drove Kwame from the family's home in Manhattan's Chelsea neighborhood to the child's East Harlem school; Kwame was sick with an apparent case of flu Thursday and stayed home, the father said.
Local 1181 released a TV ad Wednesday that showed images of wrecked buses and warned, "When inexperienced drivers take your kids to school, sometimes they never get there."
Associated Press writers Verena Dobnik and Jennifer Peltz contributed to this report.