WALL, N.J. — A Connecticut school district is among the first to share in Student Transportation of America’s (STA) $100-million “Education Stimulus Plan.”
The school bus contractor will present an initial payment of $830,000 to Regional School District 17 (RSD 17), which serves the towns of Haddam and Killingworth, next week for the purchase of its existing transportation fleet.
After signing the contract with the district, STA placed a $770,000 order for new school buses to be manufactured over the summer to replace the school district's older vehicles.
STA will begin serving RSD 17 this month.
"Hiring STA to manage our transportation operations will address three major challenges that have faced our school district for some time," said Gary Mala, superintendent of schools for the district. "STA will ensure that we have an adequate number of drivers to complement our existing driver force to keep our buses running on consistent routes and schedules. Hopefully in the immediate future, parents will have seen the last of our all-too-frequent route changes and delays.”
(Michael J. Kennedy, chief operating officer of STA's Atlantic region, said that that the company will offer positions to all current RSD 17 drivers and add permanent drivers for those bus routes that were being serviced by temporary personnel.)
“The revenue we receive from STA's purchase of our bus fleet will give us the much-needed funds to contain costs associated with the operation of our school system. It also frees up capital funds previously earmarked for bus maintenance and purchases, so the district can move forward with many of the capital improvements to our school facilities that we have had to delay,” Mala added.
RSD 17 officials also estimate that contracting with the company will save local taxpayers $2.4 million over five years, STA said.
The contractor recently completed a conversion with a similar stimulus cash payment for taxpayers in Williamsport, Pa. School officials there said that contracting with STA will save taxpayers $3.5 million over five years. The company purchased the district's fleet for $1 million, invested an additional $1 million in new vehicles and hired 90 percent of the district's existing drivers and staff.
STA representatives will attend the National School Boards Conference in Chicago this weekend, where they will outline their company’s stimulus program for many of the 10,000 school districts that own and operate their school bus fleets.