School Board Approves Transportation Consultation
The Board of Education voted at its Tuesday, May 4, meeting to engage Transportation Advisory Services (TAS) to consult the district on its current transportation services.
The school board's finance committee reviewed proposals before TAS's proposal was recommended. District Business Director Ron Bienkowski said, following the meeting, the consultation from TAS was approved for $9,680.
"We believe that Transportation Advisory Services has put together the most comprehensive proposal for moving forward," said Board of Education Secretary Debbie Leidlein. "We worked with TAS in the past and found their information to be very beneficial to decisionmaking. We feel it will benefit us greatly moving forward as we look at our transportation contracts, assessing where we are benefiting from our current contract and where adjustments can be made."
Board member Rebekah Harriman-Stites said the finance committee found TAS to be the best fit.
The school district is in its fourth year of its five-year contract with All-Star Transportation for local transportation for students. The district also has a contract with All-Star for its special education transportation services, which has two more years, and with Education Connection for vocational transport, which has two more years.
At a Board of Education meeting in January, Mr Bienkowski said the contract increase this year for the main All-Star Transportation contract is five percent, and the Education Connection Transportation contract is 1.72 percent. In the proposed budget the local transportation costs were listed as $2,768,155, the vocational transportation contract as $96,720, and the local special education transportation contract as $511,671. The total proposed 2016-17 transportation budget was listed as $4,465,588, a 5.11 percent increase over the 2015-16 budget.
Ms Harriman-Stites said the consultation will include looking at the methodology to create bus routes, looking at ridership audits, and ensuring "things are where they should be and make suggestions on how we could do better."
Board of Education member Andrew Clure asked how much it would cost for TAS to fully look at the routes in town.
"I do believe with what they are proposing in this proposal that we will be getting the information that we need without spending extra funds," said Ms Harriman-Stites.
Ms Harriman-Stites said it is her understanding that TAS's consultation will provide enough information to know whether new bus routes are needed for the district's next transportation contract. She also said TAS will tell the school board if the district should reduce the number of buses in its fleet.
Board of Education Chair Keith Alexander said the consultation will also include a detailed analysis on options for future transportation contract.
Superintendent of Schools Joseph V. Erardi, Jr, said the company's consultation will offer the best insight on the potential to renegotiate with All-Star and will provide information on transportation safety.
"I think that is essential," said Dr Erardi.
Other recommendations will help the school board determine its "next steps," Dr Erardi said.
The school board voted unanimously to approve the consultation, with Mr Clure requesting a cost estimate on a more detailed look at routing. Board members John Vouros and Kathy Hamilton were not present for the meeting.