Educaton Board Approves All-Star Contract

Board of Education votes to sign contract with All-Star.

Despite calls from the public for the Board of Education to reverse its bus contract decision, the board officially approved the transportation contract with All-Star Tuesday night.

The vote was 5-1 with Debbie Leidlein again being the sole dissenter. She reiterated her position that the board should delay making a decision on a bus provider until a labor complaint the Newtown Owner Operators filed with the state has been settled. .

Education board member David Nanavaty was absent from the meeting while Board Chairman Bill Hart and members Andrew Buzzi, Lillian Bittman, Richard Gaines and Keith Alexander voted in favor of the contract.

Hart said he believed the labor complaint was a separate process from the awarding of the contract and should not hamper the district in moving forward with its plans.

"We spent quite a bit of time focusing on this," he said of the bus contract. "We've really done the homework and made the right decision."

The board decided several weeks ago to . Since then, Hart and other officials met with All-Star to discuss some of the contract details  – including adding a provision that recognizes the outstanding labor complaint and deducts the labor cost from the contract should the state rule in favor of the owner operators and they are retained as district employees. The labor costs range from $140.50 a day in the first year to $161.21 in the fifth year, in addition to the kindergarten route, which nets another $32 to $36.72 a day.

Earlier in Tuesday's meeting, several residents came before the education board to ask that members reverse their bus decision. Resident Jim Allyn, of Main Street, at one point led some audience members in a chant of "change the vote" before Hart threatened to "clear the room" and end public participation if the group chanting continued.

Allyn said he questioned the reported cost savings of hiring All-Star Transportation compared to the owner-operator system. The district said the cost-savings will amount to $1.5 million across five years while the owner-operator supporter said it will break out to be much less because the town will continue to rack up legal fees. The move also would put individual owner-operators out of business, which would be bad for Newtown's economy, Allyn said.

In contrast, the cost of keeping the existing owner-operator model would equate to each household in Newtown paying $2.60 more each month.

"Isn't it worth a cup of coffee per household?" Allyn asked.

Dylan Cortese, 12, also spoke in support of the owner-operators.

"I have known my bus driver since kindergarten," Dylan said. "He has know us more than we know ourselves."

In addition to many supporters who came out hoping to change the board's mind was Board of Finance member and lawyer Jim Gaston, who took issue with the education board discussing the proposed All-Star contract behind closed doors prior to taking a vote. Gaston said there was no basis to hold the discussion in executive session.

"It's illegal," Gaston said.

Hart said he read the item as listed on the agenda – "Executive Session: Discussion of a Document Exempt for Disclosure – Draft  Transportation Contract" to the district's lawyer as well as Tom Hennick of the state Freedom of Information Commission, and both told Hart the matter could be discussed behind closed doors, he said.

Once the education board emerged from executive session, and voted on the matter, Hart released the now public contract document to Newtown Patch. It is posted with this article.

Correction: Jim Allyn's name was misspelled in an earlier version of this article.

Wendy Wheeler October 05, 2011 at 11:35 PM
Oh by the way I don't see the original , uncorrected form amongst AllStar's bidding documentation.
Karen Visca October 06, 2011 at 12:02 AM
I just read it you are right with your comment.
Karen Visca October 06, 2011 at 12:03 AM
Neither did I.
Carey Schierloh October 06, 2011 at 12:03 AM
"It is in the Boards best interest to award contracts to suitable restidents of the town of Newtown"....
Carey Schierloh October 06, 2011 at 12:14 AM
And you never will. Notice the "corrected" sheet for All-Star is dated the same day the bids were opened, even though All-Star did not submit the correct sheet. Hmm
Lisa October 06, 2011 at 12:30 AM
FYI...I recently found out that All Star had promised Wolcott's Senior Class Trip 4 buses last year. When Wolcott called to confirm arrangements 2 days prior, All Star informed them that they were only dispatching 2 buses. No calls - no warning - no FYI...Wolcott was frantic and thank goodness Terryville's wonderful, local bus company, Worhunsky Transport, kicked in 2 buses asap....just saying....
JMS63 October 06, 2011 at 01:39 AM
Where was the comment I entered at 6:30? Who decides what stays and what goes? Seems to me like 2 people decide what stays - what crap.
Anna Wiedemann October 06, 2011 at 02:20 AM
I agree. With the exception of Debbie Leidlein, THIS BOARD DOES NOT REPRESENT ME. It represents the wishes of Janet Robinson ONLY
Hoa Nguyen October 06, 2011 at 03:17 AM
JMS63, Part of my job is to moderate the comments. In general, there is a lot of latitude given and nearly all comments stay on the site. However, due to problems we have had in the past, we try to keep tabs on the comments. For instance, we allow users to be be critical of what someone says but they can't resort to name calling, including calling people "stupid" or "unintelligent." Also, in general, if you go by a pseudonym, which makes it hard to identify who you are, it is unfair to be attacking people who are named. Please let me know if you have any further questions at hoa@patch.com
yoda October 06, 2011 at 10:28 AM
Why can't he say how he feels, Hoa that's wrong he is paying them,they are not paying him. Look at it as his own work evaluation towards the BOE.
JMS63 October 06, 2011 at 10:32 AM
SInce you deleted the comment I don't have it in front of me, however I don't remember using either of those words, though the person who told me he doesn't want me in Newtown does not appear to be the brightest bulb. There has to be someone who has the guts to tell people to suck it up - we will not always get our way - if you don't like what the BOE says then do what you have to do to fire them and the commenters can all elect each other. In the past, using my name has landed me into suspicious car trouble......It has nothing to do with fear - just expense.
Dawne Kornhaas October 06, 2011 at 11:04 AM
Hoa Nguyen October 06, 2011 at 11:27 AM
I just want to make sure we don't get into a "comment war," which has happened in the past when the name-calling insults start flying. Thanks.
Bob October 06, 2011 at 12:06 PM
Well, the BOE wont get any trouble from Robinson over this OO issue since those three top administrators got a raise this year of roughly 40,000 between the three of them. So the news is, the BOE does what is wants no matter how the town feels, and the Top 3 School Admin's gets raises no matter the economy. It does not feel like these officials who represent the town are actually representing the town. Please vote out the BOE and force the new BOE to get rid of Robinson. They schould represent the town's wants and not their own ideals over everyone elses.
scott runkle October 06, 2011 at 12:30 PM
Two days ago my son told me he lost his phone. Yesterday afternoon I get a call from "his" phone and it is an O/O. She happened to find it on the ground at the Middle School and took it upon herself to try to locate the owner of the phone. Tell me, do you really think that a bus driver from All Star would take the time to do that??? NOT ME! It's these types of things our O/O do for us that make them valuable to ALL residents of Newtown.... BRING EM BACK! Thanks for taking the time to call!
Susan McGuinness Getzinger October 06, 2011 at 01:49 PM
I just pdf/ jpeg 'ed a photo for Yoda above...enjoy wise one!
Liam Heller October 06, 2011 at 03:34 PM
The proper term is actually called, a "Keyboard Commando". : ) Just sayin'.
Anthony DiVanno October 06, 2011 at 03:47 PM
Everyone is correct ... the Board does not represent "ME" it represents "US". ...and, anytime they can save education budget dollars via line item expense improvement without having to sacrifice teacher jobs represents the children of (US) by providing them the opportunity to be more competitive in the job market of tomorrow.
Susan McGuinness Getzinger October 06, 2011 at 04:09 PM
Well said and thanks for saying it.
Susan McGuinness Getzinger October 06, 2011 at 04:15 PM
awesome! thx, Yoda!
Karen Visca October 06, 2011 at 04:27 PM
I agree with you Bob.
Karen Visca October 06, 2011 at 04:28 PM
You are absolute right Scott. The o/o will go out of their way for the children.
Mike Kelley October 06, 2011 at 11:19 PM
Ms. Zukowski; I am not related to an owner operator, nor am I an owner operator. I have no children in the school system now, however all the kids in "Muskrat Flats" rode the bus for years. I am quoting Anna Weidemean, a person known to many who has devoted herself to help others here in town for years. She said it best. "I agree. With the exception of Debbie Leidlein, THIS BOARD DOES NOT REPRESENT ME. It represents the wishes of Janet Robinson ONLY." My statement is to vote them all out as soon as you can. Unfortunately it is too late for the owner operators, however we may be able to get reasonable, responsive representation if we all get off our butts this year and vote. There are very good alternatives to this group, presently in power on the Board of Education.
Mike Kelley October 06, 2011 at 11:26 PM
Very well said Sam Slainte. Ditto for me.
Susan McGuinness Getzinger October 07, 2011 at 01:27 PM
Yoda - late - but to answer your question - the only answer is: "There is no spoon!" - The Matrix.....the saga continues: http://newtown.patch.com/articles/regan-updates-school-board-on-special-education?ncid=following_interlink#photo-8025919
Todd Keeping October 08, 2011 at 02:41 PM
Nighthawk Pride October 08, 2011 at 07:19 PM
How long have you lived in Newtown JMS63??
JMS63 October 08, 2011 at 08:53 PM
To Hhawk pride- I have lived in Newtown for 17 years. You?
Sam Mihailoff October 09, 2011 at 03:54 AM
I totally agree with Mr. James' comment. It is direct. succinct, and factual. We see comments, and opinions deleted by the editor. Mrs. Felchick, Yoda, myself and others have been targets. My question to the editor is do you really have any rhyme or reason to your deletion process? Is it you prefer verbs over nouns? Is there a more definitive and scientific approach? George..."BOE are jerks" = DELETE, DELETE, WARNING WILL ROBINSON Arnold..."BOE sucks" = perfectly okey dokey http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JZabQkQQ1x4&feature=related
Susan McGuinness Getzinger October 09, 2011 at 10:53 PM
http://www.thefreedictionary.com/suck - (tr; often foll by down, in, etc.) to draw by using irresistible force; To take advantage of; cheat; swindle; Vulgar Slang To be disgustingly disagreeable or offensive.


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