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Central Bucks Bus Drivers to Protest Outsourcing

The drivers plan to attend Tuesday's school board meeting to try to convince the board not to outsource their jobs to First Student.

Christopher Mosz has ferried children to and from school in the Central Bucks School District for eight years, but now he’s in danger of losing his job within a year or two.

Mosz and other Central Bucks bus drivers plan to meet Tuesday morning to talk strategy in the fight to keep their jobs as district bus drivers.

They plan to attend Tuesday night’s to protest the district’s plan to eliminate a batch of drivers’ jobs after this school year is over, and more in following years, until all the bus service in the district is provided by a company, First Student, on a contract basis.

“Rumors have been flying for a couple months that the district was going to eliminate 37 runs and 37 drivers this year until we’re all gone,” Mosz said Monday. “That will take up to four years, if they do what they say they plan to do.”

Mosz, who lives in Doylestown Township, is part of a task force of bus drivers that has been meeting to address the issue. The drivers’ contract is up July 1, he said, and they’ve been trying to work out details of a new one. So far, they’ve been unsuccessful, he said, despite offers to take a pay cut and make other concessions.

“We’re willing to work with the school district, and they’re just being close-mouthed. It’s real frustrating.”

As he is higher up the seniority list, Mosz said he would probably keep his job through the first round of cuts, but probably would get laid off in the second or third year.

Many others are not so lucky, he said.

“I work with a number of the 37 lowest on the seniority list, and they are really stressed out,” he said. “A lot of the newer hires are younger people with families, so they’re really going to lose a lot.”

Several of the district’s bus routes already are contracted to First Student, the nation’s largest school bus transportation company.

First Student has been working with the Central Bucks School District since 1998, company spokeswoman Bonnie Bastian said Monday. Today, the company runs 92 of the district's bus routes, she said.

With headquarters in Cincinnati, OH, First Student transports more than 6 million children to school each day in about 650 communities in the United States and Canada, Bastian said. The company owns about 60,000 buses and employs 67,500 people, she said.

Besides Central Bucks, First Student works with about 80 other school districts and private schools in Pennsylvania, Bastian said. For schools, the biggest benefit of outsourcing transportation is fewer headaches, she said.

"It takes the day to day transportation worries off their hands so they can focus on education," Bastian said.

The Central Bucks drivers have been told that they would be offered jobs at First Student, and Bastian said that is usually how the company works.

"Whenever we come into an area, we’d prefer to have the drivers come on board with us," she said. "They know the students, they know the schools, they know the routes."

But to take those jobs, Mosz said, the Central Bucks drivers would have to take “significant” pay cuts. They also would lose their state-mandated public employee pension and their school district health insurance, which is a major enticement, Mosz said.

“The medical benefits here are top notch,” he said. “That’s why a lot of us drive for the district. So we’ll take up to a $7 an hour cut in pay and we’ll have to take new medical benefits, which we’ve been told are worthless.”

Bastian declined to discuss pay and benefit details, saying that the company pays "a competitive wage."

For now, both the drivers and First Student are playing the waiting game until the school board makes a decision.

 "We’ve been working with the district for several years now, and if they so choose, we would love to expand that relationship," Bastian said. "It’s just a matter of waiting to see what they’d like to do and what’s the best decision for them."

School district officials were not immediately available for comment.

The Central Bucks School Board meets at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at the administration building at 16 Welden Dr., Doylestown. To see the full agenda, click here.

Given the issues expected to be addressed and crowds at recent meetings, anyone who wants a seat or even a place to stand inside the room should arrive early.

Jeff Lugar April 25, 2011 at 05:48 PM
It's sad, but it comes down to those pension funding costs. Christina Kristofic's recent Intel article mentioned the district's pension fund obligations go from $8 million now to about $30 million in 2014-15. That extra $22 million won't magically appear
Sarah Larson (Editor) April 25, 2011 at 07:37 PM
Yep, pension costs in the next couple years are going to be a huge issue. I'm sure we'll be hearing and writing more about it for months if not years to come.
Arugula April 25, 2011 at 08:00 PM
It would be great to see more reporting on each CBSD School Board meeting here on Patch. I know you do reporting on the meetings sometimes, but reporting on ALL the meetings (that happen every 2 weeks) would be really great to see (especially since the district is now taking over a month to post the meeting minutes on its web site, and those meeting minutes don't tell very much about the discussion that goes on at the meeting, anyhow).
Jane April 25, 2011 at 09:01 PM
(Sounds like Bucks County is the proverbial welfare queen - too poor to pay bills, but rich enough to buy new toys?)
Doug April 25, 2011 at 09:11 PM
I must be very confused. Possibly someone on the School Board can assist. We, through the School Board, are handing off a contract for bus service to a company that is holding on by a thread, barely holding onto its' license to carry children with an accusation of rape in Ohio and countless service problems both in the US and England.. Couple this with the hedge fund parent in England with a more than questionable P & L and a stock price that is hundreds of pounds per share and continued losses and the School Board feels this is a good decision? WOW!!! Was this decision made in the face of a bunch of good options. The good news is that the economies of both Cinci and England will benefit and we will have less tax payers...WOW!!! another Win/Win. I would check the school Board re-election campaigns...they too MIGHT be winners!
Doug April 25, 2011 at 09:24 PM
Sarah, could not agree more. We'll be hearing more about either pensions or the lawsuits against First Student and the School Board by parents.
Jeff Lugar April 25, 2011 at 10:05 PM
Must remember it was the state who made the promise, not CBSD, (to teachers, at least) jacking up already nice pensions a decade ago under the naive assumption there could never be another recession.
Barney Sloan April 26, 2011 at 01:55 AM
Remember it was a Republican controlled House and Senate and Govenor Tom Ridge (R) who increased the benefits. The employees had their payroll deductions increased from 5% immediately to 7.5%. The legislature as part of the law said the school districts and state did not have to put up there share of the increase until 2012-13 fiscal year. So while the employees made there payments the empolyers have not so lets not blame the teachers and public employees blame the politions. Also lets remember the politicians increased there pensions from 2.5% to 3.5% for every year they work while increasing other state employees and teachers from 2% to 2.5%> Finally, cutting the bus drivers will take them down to poverty leverl wages with poor medical benefits while the school district will still pay out as much as they pay now only cutting the pension payments. Remember First Student is the company whose school bus driver was texting with students on board when he hit a Honda head on killing one person plus he had killed a child ten years ago while texting he ran a stop sign.
Jessica April 26, 2011 at 02:29 PM
Barney Sloan you may want to get your story correct when you make accusations against a company. It was STA that was involved in the collision you speak of. http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,589429,00.html
Arugula April 26, 2011 at 03:49 PM
At least one School Board member, and candidate for re-election, is more focused on other things ... http://www.cbsd.org/communityrelations/Documents/PressReleases/charlesbakernov2508.pdf or try this shortened link if that one doesn't work http://bit.ly/h8kTGc

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