.

School Administration Recommends Consideration of Privatized Transportation

Residents have more questions after School Committee's presentation on the potential fate of the Transportation Department.

 

Residents are still looking for a lot of answers regarding the future of the , but they're going to have to wait until next Wednesday to get them.

The school administration's tentative recommendation, however, is to possibly privatize transportation services. 

The met last night to hear the results of a transportation assessment conducted by a consultant hired to look at the options facing the Transportation Department given the impact of the CCHS building project. will utilize the space that is currently occupied but the Transportation Department, forcing the bus yard and maintenance building off the CCHS campus.

"That has led us to need to look at all the options," said School Committee Chairman Peter Fischelis.

Superintendent Diana Rigby said the combination of the building project and budget constraints is what prompted the look into changes to the Transportation Department.

"We have the factor of no transportation facilities as well as some serious budget challenges," Rigby said. "I think it's really important that we research what is the most cost effect way we can provide our transportation services."

Deputy Superintendent for Finance and Operations John Flaherty said the overall cost of keeping the Transportation Department in house over fiscal year '13 would be $2,185,120.

Following approval of the CCHS building project, requests for bids from private transportation services were issued, Flaherty said. Two bids were returned, the lower of which came from First Student at $1,811,829 — a potential savings of $373,291. While the school district would retain ownership of the 36-bus fleet — and handful of buses would be housed at each of the school buildings with the exception of Thoreau — the bid figure from First Student includes three additional buses in the first year of what would be a three-year contract.

"Based on those elements, it's our recommendation that the School Committee consider outsourcing," Flaherty said.

The Transportation Department currently employs 36 drivers, three mechanics, and three administrators. Flaherty said if services are outsourced, "[The] contractor has indicated an interest in hiring 100 percent of our staff, our bus drivers … They're going to need as many bus drivers to do it as we do."

Flaherty added that he was concerned with two current positions, but was confident the majority of CCRSD bus drivers would be offered positions if the School Committee decides to go with the outside company.

The presentation was followed by a number of comments from residents, district parents, and .

One of the primary concerns expressed was that the general understanding of the purpose of last night's meeting was to present different options for the Transportation Department, rather than presenting one single option.

Addressing the possibility of relocating the department, Rigby said some consideration was given to the town-owned maintenance facility on Keyes Road.

"We went to the town first, that was our first conversation with [Town Manager] Chris Whelan," the superintendent said. "We inquired whether or not that would be an option and it didn't seem like that would work."

Fischelis requested Flaherty go into greater detail on the other options the administration did look at and why they were ruled out during next week's public forum.

Other concerns expressed last night included the perceived lack of transparency of the transportation evaluation process; the longterm savings, if any, given the possible condition of the fleet at the end of the three-year contract; and the impact such a change would have on the , many of whom have served the school district for up to 30 years and are very close with the families they serve.

"To think about them being stripped of their benefits is embarrassing to me," said one parent of a student.

One individual summed up much of the opposing sentiment saying of the meeting, "I feel duped by the process.

"What I hear is that 'We're here to sell you on this as the only option we have.'"

The public forum will be held on Wednesday, Feb. 1, 7 p.m., at the .

The final vote on the future of the Transportation Department will be taken at the next regular School Committee meeting after the forum.
 
 

Michelle January 25, 2012 at 11:32 AM
Here we go again. I am so disappointed by what has transpired here. The "savings" by outsourcing appears minimal and the only thing being "saved" are these poor drivers and mechanics salaries. I would have thought, that we as a town, could and would have done right by these devoted and trusted employees. I am truly sick about this and wholeheartedly would like to plead with the school committee to really do the right thing here. It's not too late to stop this from happening; we as parents and taxpayers need to feel that this town is representing us. In my opinion, there is no one looking for what should and could be done here. Please, please, please, make the right decision next week and don't turn your backs on what we as a community stand for. Everyone deserves to be treated with respect, integrity, and value. Do not let these men and women down. Do right by them and right by those of us you represent!! -Michelle

Boards

More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »