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DTC Speaks Out on Bus Contract Debate

The Democratic Town Committee issued a press release in connection with the debate surrounding the school bus contract bidding process.

The Democratic Town Committee affirms its commitment to the present owner-operator system of school bus transportation. Historically, the owner-operators have provided superior personal service to the community, have done so at a competitive and cost efficient manner, and have added to the economic well-being of the town.

The Democratic Town Committee previously made this commitment as a policy principle and the present circumstances cause us to reassess and reaffirm that commitment.

The Democratic Town Committee encourages a fair bidding process. Unfortunately the present Board of Education would allow its business manager to effectuate a bidding process that shuts out owner-operators.  Requiring a performance bond for each and every owner-operator is of no consequence except to intentionally cause their bids to rise.  No such requirement was made in the past.  There is no good reason for this concocted procedure except to unfairly disadvantage the owner-operators. 

There can be no dispute that the owner-operator system has provided the very best personal service to Newtown children and parents.  It is a service that is unparalleled.  One must question why a Board would throw away a tried and true owner-operator bus system?

The owner–operator matter is not solely a service provider issue; it is also an important community economic issue. The Newtown Democratic Town Committee recognizes that the maintenance of the owner-operator bus system is a vital piece of Newtown’s economic vitality.  Keeping the $2.5M - $3.0M dollars in the Newtown economy is critical.  From a cursory economic perspective, with an average economic multiplier of money factor of 3, the $2.5M-$3M paid to owner-operators in Newtown results in $7.5M - $9.0M dollars in community area dollar spending; add to that the property and vehicle taxes that Newtown collects from owner-operator buses. The choice to lose tax revenues and community dollar spending when the vast majority of voters want the owner-operator services makes no sense.

Finally, Dr. Janet Robinson, Superintendent, Ron Bienkowski, Business Director, and the Board of Education must recognize that any short term dollars saved will not necessarily be injected into the educational budget for other services. In summary, this unwise policy will result in a lesser quality of services, fewer education dollars, and significant economic loss to the town overall. We strongly encourage these leaders to reject the present avenue they are traveling. 

                                          Jim Gaston

                                           Newtown Democratic Town Committee

Jim Gaston June 20, 2011 at 12:12 PM
You confuse facts with "emotions" and "anger"...interesting. By the way, the DTC isn't going to call your wife who sits on the Board of Education to remind her to vote. If she doesn't know when and where to vote...well, enough said. And, I doubt they are going to call you after your "emotional" frivilious grievances (readily dismissed) you filed against certain public officials with which I understand not even your wife wanted filed. The reason you don't know about the "get out the vote" efforts of the DTC and its members, phone calls, letters, website, etc. is because the "Democrats" in your family neither attend, support nor are active in any of the DTC activities, at least as far as I have seen, and I'm pretty active. So next time, try to corral some facts before shooting from the hip, please. Finally, no one is "trying to derail the competitive bidding process," that's just misdirection. On the contrary, the DTC is concerned that there won't be a fair competitive bidding process as the present performance bond system exists. It also notes that quality of service and community economics are important components in the decision process. Please try not to misdirect attention away from those three components.
Hoa Nguyen June 20, 2011 at 02:04 PM
How about we leave it as we will agree to disagree on this topic. Thanks.
WaxyGordon June 20, 2011 at 02:58 PM
Bottom line is: Whether we get rid of O/O's or not...our taxes will not go down. They will find some reason to not lower them
Tom Bittman June 20, 2011 at 03:03 PM
Agreed. We should be able to discuss issues without insults, sarcasm and ad hominem arguments - that pretty much stops any rational dialogue, and keeps a lot of people who have thin skins from participating in the discussion.
Tom Bittman June 20, 2011 at 05:19 PM
Mike, this is entirely logical. Again, if there is a reason NOT to allow independent bids and eliminate the performance bond, it hasn't been explained to the public (or at least I haven't heard it yet). Also, my personal experience with bus drivers over 16 years has been entirely positive. Oh, there have been the very rare occasions where I've seen drivers using cell phones (drives me crazy), and I've heard of individual issues that had to be handled, but I have no doubt in my mind at all - none at all - that a bus company would increase the problems ten-fold. Let's make this a level playing field, and focus on the core issue - which I believe is paying for superior quality vs. potentially lowering our costs. And if I can make my point as constructively as possible - if the BOE chooses quality and higher cost vs. lower cost, let's support that at referendum time - otherwise, we are choosing O/Os over investing in core education. These are not separate issues.

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