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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.

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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