The school board approves the transportation contract, etc.
Published: May 09, 2022 07:00
In a split vote at its May 3 meeting, the Newtown School Board awarded All-Star Transportation a five-year transportation contract.
In addition to approving the contract, the school board approved a state-mandated elective course for Newtown High School and approved changes to the district’s “math pathways” or math courses that students can take between fourth and fourth grade. and eighth grade.
The school board also heard a presentation on diversity, equity and inclusion, which will be covered in next week’s print edition of The Newtown Bee.
Following a request for proposals (RFP), the school board learned at its March 15 meeting that only one bid had come back for the school district’s transportation contract. The current contract with All-Star Transportation, which oversees the majority of bus routes in the district, is due to end at the end of this school year.
At the May 3 meeting, District Business and Finance Manager Tanja Vadas said – reacting to public involvement speaker Ryan Knapp who, among other things regarding the carriage contract, questioned the process of school district’s RFP – she’s sticking to the district’s RFP process” but other companies just didn’t bid.
Vadas also shared that All-Star Transportation is also offering the district an alternative to the proposed five-year contract: a one-year extension of the existing contract. The one-year extension, Vadas pointed out, would cost the district an additional $355,000 over the current budget, an increase of almost 20%.
If this one-year extension had been chosen by the school board, a new offer would have been drawn up in January for the full contract.
Vadas said the five-year contract meets the school district’s budget expectations, and she shared the ways All-Star Transportation has worked to ease bus driver shortages.
“They’re trying,” Vadas said. “They’re trying to spread the word.”
According to a Vadas presentation, with recruitment efforts publicized, 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 from these people completed the process, and no one ended up joining the team.
Vadas said Newtown isn’t alone in facing a shortage of school bus drivers due to the pandemic and other financial reasons. During deliberations on the bus contract, school board members said they did not like either contract option.
The school board voted 5-2 to go through with the five-year contract with Jennifer Larkin and Janet Kuzma voting against.
School board president Deborra Zukowski said she supports the five-year contract despite having “no good options” due to concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic and its lingering repercussions, inflation and the school district set to transition to a new Superintendent of Schools, with the current Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Lorrie Rodrigue, due to retire at the end of the school year.
After a first reading and presentation at its April 19 meeting, the school board held a second reading and voted to approve a state-mandated African American/Black and Puerto Rican/Latino course in the NHS during of its May 3 meeting.
Since it was mandated by the state, Assistant Superintendent of Schools Anne Uberti explained that it technically did not need to be voted on by the school board, but was voted on because all programs in the district school are voted by the council.
The school board voted 6-1 to approve the course, with school board member Don Ramsey voting against the motion saying he was not voting against the course itself but rather by the way the state presented and mandated the course, which will be an NHS choice from next school year.
In another split vote, the school board voted 5 to 2 to approve changes to math pathways, with Larkin and Zukowski voting against the motion.
The changes, according to Uberti, postpone placement in an advanced math class until sixth grade instead of fifth and eliminate the Math Accelerated class in seventh grade. The proposals were put forward by the K-12 Mathematics Committee after “careful consideration of several factors and review of relevant data”.
Education Editor Eliza Hallabeck can be reached at [email protected]