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Central Bucks to Lay Off 44 Bus Drivers

The proposed 2012-2013 budget also eliminates 11 teaching positions.

The Central Bucks School Board on Tuesday unanimously approved an agreement with the district’s transportation union which would lay off at least 44 bus drivers.

Their routes would be picked up by the district’s transportation subcontractor, First Student.

According to the agreement with the Central Bucks Transportation Association, drivers who agree to be laid off or retire before May 30 would receive a $5,000 stipend to help them transition from a district healthcare plan to one of their own, the school district’s labor negotiations attorney, Fred D’Angelo told the board and public on Tuesday.

The base figure of 44 drivers was agreed on after a survey by the drivers’ union and does not figure in any drivers who have yet to make their choice to retire or leave. However, D’Angelo added the drivers would have to submit their resignation by May 30 to be eligible to receive the $5,000.

The district hopes to disband its transportation division and move entirely to outsourcing the transportation of its students within the next five years. D’Angelo said the rising cost of healthcare and pension contributions is the reason behind the move.

"It was no longer sustainable for the district to be in the transportation business,” he said.

The 44 layoffs are projected to save only about $15,000 next year, after the stipends and other factors. But by 2015, the savings is expected to reach more than $1 million in one year alone, according to figures presented to the board. Total savings over next several years was projected at $7.5 million.

Those figures do not factor in money earned from the possible sale of the district’s buses that would not be needed once First Student takes over all the busing responsibilities, school district Business Administrator David Matyas said. First Student already covers half of Central Bucks' bus routes.

While one major issue with the drivers has been settled, the district and the transportation association still are working on terms for a new labor contract. They have been negotiating since January 2011.

“We still have some remaining issues,” D’Angelo told the board, refering to the contract negotiations.

In other business on Tuesday, the district presented an updated version of the 2012-2013 budget.

The proposed $287,238,850 budget puts two administrative staff, 11 professional teaching staff and one support employee out of work. The layoffs would save the district about $800,000. The teachers likely would be laid off from the elementary schools, where enrollment is falling, Maytas said.

Also proposed was a tax increase of 2 mills which would end up costing the average homeowner $80 extra dollars a year. Last year’s increase cost the average homeowner an extra $65 dollars, according to the business administrator.

The tax increase was blamed on declining revenues, decreases in state aid, and increasing personnel costs, Matyas said during a budget presentation.

The final budget will be voted on during next month’s school board meeting.

Brian Reiff May 23, 2012 at 11:45 AM
I am glad my child is not being taken to school by an "outsourced driver", who gets little benefits and lower salaries. Who do you think these drivers are? My guess is they are not your neighbors.
Joe OMalley May 23, 2012 at 01:43 PM
Maybe the teachers will give up a portion of their next contract increase to help out their fellow man get thru a tough stretch in their lives.
Michael Heffron May 23, 2012 at 01:52 PM
Brian, Your "guess" was a bad one. Where do you think First Student came from? They are your neighbors and many used to be district drivers. They meet the same state requirements and qualifications as the District drivers and are required to pass an additional, extensive First Student training program. No First Student driver is permitted to drive a Central Bucks route until the District themselves have completely vetted the driver. The top rate for a First Student driver is nearly identical to that of the current District Drivers. In fact, District drivers who drive "van" routes are paid less than First Student drivers that do the same job. Yes, the benefits are not as generous as those of District drivers but then, who working a part-time job in private industry has such a lucrative benefits package? The benefits are the reason that the District (and ultimately the taxpayer) can no longer afford to keep the positions in-house. Finally, First Student drivers are permitted to apply for UIC benefits every summer and First Student does not challenge them, something District drivers are not able to take advantage of. That's a minimum of 10 weeks of of benefits over the summer plus qualifying time during the winter and spring breaks. People can listen to rumors, innuendos and lies or look for the facts. Its their choice but comments resulting from such will likely be challenged when they arise.
Bettina May 23, 2012 at 01:52 PM
teachers salaries and benefits are out of line with today's "real world" economy. I think teachers pays should be indefinitely frozen. Central Bucks school district taxes are a burden for most folks....and yet another increase this year....when when the school district learn to budget? When they can no longer tap into taxpayers pockets...thats when.
LocalFamily May 23, 2012 at 03:21 PM
I'd have to agree with most of what Mr. Heffron has said. Can't agree in full simply because I don't know all the facts. My kids have been bussed on First Student routes in CB for a few years now. They're not perfect, but neither are the CBSD-owned routes. We really don't notice any difference in service, other than the fact that our kids have been riding a temporary bus "R" for 18 months now because the original bus was in an accident in December 2010. (I know, that sounds like an indictment of First Student but the simple truth is that when you cover tens of thousands of miles per year in school busses, accidents happen. I just wish they would replace the bus.) My only concern about this outsourcing plan is the long term cost. We keep hearing that CBSD has a long term contract with FS, but how long is long? And what happens to our costs when that deal expires? I have heard reports of cost increases in other districts that exceed what it would have cost to keep the services in house, and I have not been convinced that this cannot happen in CBSD. I worry that we're taking immediate savings and pushing the problem off into the future.
LocalFamily May 23, 2012 at 03:25 PM
Teacher salaries are higher than average, but our district is one of the top-rated ones in the nation according to two national publications. I think they are worth their salaries. Benefits (which the district controls) and pension (which they cannot control) are another story entirely. These are well out of line with what can be expected from employment in the private sector. Our tax dollars should not be used to provide public servants with better compensation than the taxpayers themselves receive.
American Worker May 23, 2012 at 03:27 PM
Freeze the pay and put web cams in the classroom. I am shocked by some teachers ! Most are good, but a select few should be tossed out on their free loading butts . I witness shocking disrespect for children....in CBSD. I subcontract and have a view of teaching most sure not given. "10 year" is equivalent to freeloading.
ingrid May 23, 2012 at 04:19 PM
It is of concern when these administrators with their high degrees have a difficult time understanding basic economics. Our suburban public school teachers throughout this area are a bunch of spoiled government workers who have no clue what the real working world is all about. I would take any of them to task and see what contribution they could make in private industry. I think many would not make a week without complaining about the hours, pay, and lack of benefits. Seems like common sense has gone by the wayside in this society.
Foster Winans May 23, 2012 at 05:05 PM
Friends and Neighbors, it is a mistake to cast this issue in terms of who is right and who is wrong, or to disparage a group of people among whom are many conscientious educators and other public employees. As the publisher of a book on the subject of the business of government, what is happening in CB is happening everywhere across the country, and around the world. Once upon a long time ago, teachers and other public employees were underpaid and an effort was made to make public employment attractive and competitive with the private sector. Over the years, the pendulum swung too far the other way and now we have governments that have over-promised their employees benefits that tax revenue can no longer deliver, and private sector pay rates have fallen behind inflation. All government functions are now up for bid. There is no perfect system, but what we have is unsustainable mathematically.
Michael Heffron May 23, 2012 at 05:35 PM
Local Family, what bus route is your child on? I ask because I do not recall an accident in December 2010 that took a bus out of service for 18 months and Bus R is in the bus yard today and not being used as a sub on any route.
Michael Heffron May 23, 2012 at 05:40 PM
BTW, the current contract between First Student and CBSD began in 2007 and runs through 2018 if CBSD exercises all of its option years. Its a matter of public record.
LocalFamily May 23, 2012 at 05:50 PM
I can't vouch for today, but Bus R has picked my kids up almost every morning since the accident occurred. We are on route # 355. #355 returned to the route for a few weeks around the beginning of March 2012, but bus R returned soon after that and has been in service every day since then. Here is a link to a story about the accident...my mistake, it was October 2010, not December 2010. http://abclocal.go.com/wpvi/story?section=news/local&id=7732711
LocalFamily May 23, 2012 at 05:58 PM
Here's an additional link. http://www.wnpv1440.com/news/schools/2839-bucks-co-school-bus-crash Odd that you wouldn't remember a substitute bus being in service for over a year, but every morning I see Bus R with "owned and operated by First Student" painted on its side. Its become a joke to the folks in the neighborhood, with people speculating what "R" stands for.
Michael Heffron May 24, 2012 at 12:09 AM
Local Family, Yes, I recall the accident in October very well. Its the December date that threw me. I'll need to look into the current situation and see what the deal is. Feel free to call me at FS.
Michael Heffron May 24, 2012 at 12:11 AM
BTW, all the sub buses have letters rather than numbers. "R" has no real significance but I do see where you folks were coming from wondering about that. :-)
Michael Heffron May 24, 2012 at 01:20 PM
Local Family, Bus 355 was out of service for about 10 days recently while the shop was waiting for a part to repair the exhaust system where it is attached to the turbo. It went back into service yesterday.
Michael Heffron May 24, 2012 at 01:31 PM
Mr. Winans' comments are well taken. Its the change in the economics of the industry, not those who work within it. I use the school bus drivers as an example; they are dedicated professionals who are faced with a change in their benefits that will have an impact on them. It is natural for them to now be disgruntled and fight for what they have. Unfortunately, keeping the status quo is simply no longer financially feasible to maintain. This is true across the Comminwealth and most of the country. Furthermore, these changes are reaching down into the private sector as well, however, the changes are not as drastic because the private sector did not see the huge increases that the public sector enjoyed during the previous decade.

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