As a former Board of Education member and concerned Newtown resident I have followed closely the bidding, evaluation and awarding of the bus contract to All Star Transportation. The process relied heavily on the “data” presented by the finance director which did not appear to be questioned or challenged by the BOE.
There are several questions that I believe should have been asked and were not (at least not during public session). Since the public was given no opportunity to ask any questions, I will pose a few of my questions here for the record.
The All Star bid was lower than all of the other bids including DATTCO and First Student. Note that the difference between the O-O bid as compared to the First Student and DATTCO bid was 6% and 3% respectively. The All Star bid was lower than First Student and DATTCO by 7.5% and 10.5%. You would have to assume that All Star, DATTCO and First Student’s operational costs are relatively similar (i.e.: cost of buses, insurance, fuel, salary of drivers etc.) What then is the difference?
Is All Star accepting a smaller profit margin in order to win the Newtown Business? I would be personally concerned that the lower All Star bid cannot be sustained and increased costs will be incurred within the 5 year contract.
In All Star’s bid their proposed approach is to use the larger 77 passenger bus. We know there are many smaller roads in Newtown that may not be able to safely accommodate these larger buses. Will All Star change to the smaller bus at additional cost to Newtown or will they require a change in the location of the bus stops for these roads?
During the winter months it is necessary to close schools early due to pending snow storms. The administration was able to mobilize the buses fairly quickly due to the O-O all living in town. Since it is very likely the All Star drivers may not live in Newtown, how fast will they be able to mobilize the buses on these days? Will there be a requirement in the contract for expectations regarding response time for early emergency closings?
I find it interesting that All Star was able to bid substantially lower than all the other bus companies in order to win the Newtown contract. It is also important to note that All Star was given the high schools driver’s education contract. What’s next, is it the goal of the administration to give the remaining transportation contracts to All Star when their contracts come up for renewal?
I cannot help but to believe that it has been the goal of this Superintendent to consolidate all of the school system transportation needs under All Star transportation. The conclusion that I have reached is that the bidding process and data utilized to justify the selection was choreographed to insure All Star was the bid winner.