NAUGATUCK — With the transportation contract coming to an end this year, the Naugatuck school district is weighing its options to get students to school.
The district’s three-year contract with Student Transportation of America, the company that provides busing for students, comes to an end in June. Assistant Business Manager Robert Butler presented two options, both five-year deals, to the Board of Education during its meeting earlier this month.
The first option included annual 3 percent increases based on the district’s current pricing. It also stipulated that the average age of the fleet would be 5 years old.
In the second option there is a 1.5 percent increase in the first year of the deal, 2013-14, a 2.5 percent increase the next two years, and a 3 percent increase the following two years, Butler said.
Under the second option the average age of the buses will be less than 7 years old.
Butler explained that if the board did not act there was a clause that would extend the contract two more years as it currently stands with 3 percent increases.
In a subsequent interview, Butler did not provide the bottom line costs of what each of the options would be since the board’s finance subcommittee had not looked them over yet.
The current year’s budget for transportation, which includes aides, special education transportation and fuel, is approximately $3 million.
The district did not go out to bid for busing.
Butler said he compared the prices of what other bus companies bid for transportation for the Monroe school district to get an idea of what numbers the borough would be looking at if they went out to bid.
Compared to the numbers from Monroe, the first option with STA would be approximately $800,000 less while the second package was approximately $1 million less, he said.
Butler said that the second option also come with GPS systems.
“They will install GPS systems in all the buses, in which case we will be able to track every bus at every place,” Butler said.
The GPS units would allow the district to review how long it takes buses to run their routes and how long they stop at certain bus stops.
Mayor Robert Mezzo was concerned the board was simply renewing its contract with STA rather than seeking new bids. He asked Butler if the bidding process was able to be waived under these circumstances.
Butler assured him that borough attorney Ned Fitzpatrick reviewed the matter and said that it met the requirements for the bidding process to be waived.
Board member Rocky Vitale was concerned that the average age of the bus fleet under option two means the borough could have a bus that is 14 years old as long as it had a new bus as well.
Butler said that was correct, but that all of the buses would still have to be up to Department of Transportation standards regardless of age.
Butler recommended the second option to the board meeting. However, the board took no action and sent the issue to the finance subcommittee for review.