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BOE Approves Five-Year Contract With All-Star Transportation



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After first approving Newtown’s five-year transportation contract with All-Star Transportation in a split-vote at a meeting on May 3, the Board of Education at its June 21 meeting unanimously approved details of the contract, which goes into effect on July 1.

As previously reported in The Newtown Bee, following a Request for Proposal (RFP), the school board learned at its March 15 meeting that only one bid came back for the school district’s transportation contract. The current contract with All-Star Transportation, which oversees the majority of bus routes for the district, was set to end at the end of the 2021-22 school year.

District Director of Business & Finance Tanja Vadas shared at the May 3 meeting that the five-year contract meets the school district’s budget expectations, and she shared ways All-Star Transportation has been working to mitigate bus driver shortages.

According to a presentation from Vadas, with advertising for recruitment efforts, All-Star Transportation had 82 applicants between July and March, and of those 82 applicants eight people started the process to become a school bus driver, two of those people completed the process, and no one ended up joining the team. Vadas said Newtown is not alone in facing school bus driver shortages due to the pandemic and other financial reasons.

During deliberation on the bus contract, school board members voiced not liking the five-year contract nor another one-year contract option proposed by All-Star Transportation. The school board voted 5 to 2 to pass the five-year contract with Jennifer Larkin and Janet Kuzma voting against, as reported by The Newtown Bee following the May 3 meeting.

Vadas shared details of the further discussed contract at the June 21 meeting. According to Vadas, the contract ends on June 30, 2027, and the Newtown Public Schools district will have the ability to extend the contract by one year.

The increase on the contract is 8.85% in year one, with approximately 4% increases in subsequent years. Other stipulations detailed include that all buses must be from 2018 or newer, all buses will have cameras, all buses will have GPS technology, and all buses will be fueled by propane.

Sharing that there were many “discussions with council,” Vadas said, “I think we did very well on the contract.”

Vadas also presented the district’s monthly financial report at the meeting. As it was the report for May, the report pointed out it was the eleventh and therefore final report of the 2021-22 fiscal year.

“The current year-end projected balance is now showing a positive position of $521,139,” the report submitted to the school board reads. “Of this, $519,783 can be found in the salary accounts and is a result of ongoing workforce issues that have been reported to the board throughout the year.

“In the certified accounts, we experienced open positions (filling with subs), teachers on leave, less of a demand for homebound tutoring as well as employee turnover, which all resulted in an excess of $131,808,” the report continues. “However, the majority of our salary balance can be found in the non-certified accounts, primarily due to the inability to fill open para professional and behavioral analyst positions.

This combined with employee turnover in our custodial and secretarial accounts yielded a projected yearend balance of $387,975.”

The report also included transfer requests, compiled after discussions with various department representative for current needs, according to the report.

Transfer requests included $76,628 from “other purchased services” for the purchase of printed and digital material for the sixth to eighth grade math program; $50,000 from salaries for the purchase of two rooftop air-conditioning units at Newtown Middle School; $84,000 from salaries for the purchase and replacement of new LED parking lot lights for Newtown High School; and $134,350 from salaries for interactive boards for Reed Intermediate School.

Education Editor Eliza Hallabeck can be reached at eliza@thebee.com.

From left, then Superintendent of Schools Dr Lorrie Rodrigue, Board of Education Chair Deborra Zukowski, and Board of Education Vice Chair John Vouros listen at the board’s June 21 meeting as an All-Star Transportation contract is shared.
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