(Newtown school officials released the following press release Wednesday)
The Newtown Board of Education (BOE) recognizes the School Bus Owner/Operators have provided loyal service to this community for many decades. However, the cost may be more than the District can afford.
Newtown has the highest per pupil transportation cost in our District Reference Group (DRG), a cost that is 40% more than the State or DRG averages.
The rate in the current Owner/Operator contracts appears to be much higher than competitive market rates, in fact it is more than 30% higher than the rate that was achieved from the competitive bid process used for our current special needs transportation contract in 2009.
In this period of tough economic times and as responsible stewards of the taxpayers’ dollars, it is important that the District obtain the best possible prices for all services, so that every available dollar can be focused on direct educational expenses.
The current competitive bid process, which is required by the BOE’s policy, will determine the fair market rate for transportation. The results of this bid will help the BOE understand the true cost premium associated with the owner/operator system.
Some concern has been raised by the requirement in the bid for a performance bond. Transportation is critical to the education mission.
The District must ensure that it will be available and that all bids being considered are credible, so as is the practice for municipal bids, the District has included a requirement for a performance bond. Fair bidding practices require that the same specifications be imposed on all bidders.
The Board of Education understands that the Owner/Operators wish to change their long time status as independent contractors to that of employees by filing a complaint with the State Board of Labor Relations. The Board looks forward to working though this process to find a resolution that is in the best interest of all parties: the Owner/Operators, the District, and the tax payers.
The bid process closes 2:00 pm on June 23, 2011.
For information contact the District’s Business Director, Ron Bienkowski at (203)426-7618.