Methac­ton school board­OKs­sale of buses

The Colonial - - FRONT PAGE - By Bren­danWills

bwills@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com

The Methac­ton School Board Aug. 19 ap­proved the trans­fer of 115 bus ti­tles from the school district bus fleet to First Stu­dent in the amount of $1,776,804.70.

At its March 20 meet­ing, the board ap­proved the out­sourc­ing of the district’s trans­porta­tion ser­vices to First Stu­dent amid public out­cry from bus driv­ers and res­i­dents who wished the jobs to re­main in the district.

Be­fore the vote Aug. 19, Joe Bick­el­man, a district res­i­dent, asked the board if the sale was listed on the rev­enue side of the 2014-15 bud­get.

“If it wasn’t, then I think the au­di­tors should be no­ti­fied be­cause it’s a ma­te­rial item be­ing sold and it is more than 60 days af­ter the end of the fis­cal year,” Bick­el­man said.

District Su­per­in­ten­dent David Zerbe in­di­cated he would get back to Bick­el­man with the an­swer to that ques­tion.

At the start of the meet­ing, Randy Wil­liams, a First Stu­dent rep­re­sen­ta­tive, gave an up­date on the sta­tus of the switch to First Stu­dent, which the com­pany will con­tinue to do at board meet­ings through­out the year to keep the board and public abreast of the tran­si­tion.

“We have been very suc­cess­ful over the sum­mer. We have 101 driv­ers cre­den­tialed and ready for start of school op­er­at­ing 95 routes,” Wil­liams said, adding that First Stu­dent is in­ter­ested in car­ry­ing 105 em­ploy­ees. Of those 101 driv­ers, 100 are hires from within the district ac­cord­ing to Wil­liams, who had in­di­cated dur­ing pre­vi­ous meet­ings that First Stu­dent in­tended to keep all of the district’s driv­ers that wanted to switch. Enough of the district’s em­ploy­ees trans­ferred to First Stu­dent, thereby mak­ing their union el­i­gi­ble to rep­re­sent the bus per­son­nel that switched to First Stu­dent. Wil­liams said First Stu­dent has opted to con­tinue ne­go­ti­at­ing with the union.

In his up­date, Wil­liams also said 41 re­place­ment buses have been or­dered, four of which are on site be­ing pre­pared to re­place the four old­est buses in the Methac­ton fleet. The video cam­eras for the new buses and any re­place­ments for old buses are also on site, ac­cord­ing to Wil­liams, who said First Stu­dent will be check­ing the hard drives for the video sys­tems and in­stalling the other GPS-track­ing tech­nolo­gies onto the buses over the next few weeks. Dry runs of routes and mir­ror clin­ics will be­gin shortly, Wil­liams said.

In other busi­ness, the board ap­proved the three­year col­lec­tive bar­gain­ing agree­ment with Team­sters Lo­cal 384 and the com­pen­sa­tion and ben­e­fit plan for con­fi­den­tial em­ploy­ees.

The term of the Team­sters agree­ment will be from July 1, 2014, to June 30, 2017, with 2.3, 2.4 and 2.5 per­cent salary in­creases for each year and fea­ture the same med­i­cal ben­e­fits plan as the teach­ers’ agree­ment. The con­fi­den­tial em­ploy­ees plan lasts the same term and fea­tures 2 per­cent in­creases each year and the same med­i­cal plan.

Bick­el­man also ob­jected to th­ese con­tracts in his state­ments, say­ing that it looked as though the trans­porta­tion ser­vices were outsourced in or­der give raises to other em­ploy­ees.

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