Methacton school boardOKssale of buses
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.