PRESTON, Conn. — Unionized school bus drivers for Preston Public Schools have launched a petition drive calling for a public hearing on the possible outsourcing of the district’s transportation services.
Earlier this year, the district’s board of education voted to conduct a feasibility study “to determine the potential costs and other benefits which would result from contracting out transportation services.”
The district’s bus drivers, represented by the CSEA/SEIU Local 2001 chapter, announced on Tuesday that they intend to deliver signed petitions urging a public hearing before any vote is held to contract out school bus services in advance of the next board meeting, scheduled for July 19.
The union is trying to make the case that community members are against the potential outsourcing. It said that in a special town meeting held by Preston's Board of Selectman in April, "more than 75 residents voted unanimously to oppose outsourcing the community's school bus services."
The Preston board of education has said that if it were to contract out transportation services next year, it would stipulate in its request for proposals that the successful contractor “must consider current employees for employment.” The board also said it would expect the contractor to provide “a similar wage package for the drivers.”
According to the board's figures, among the 169 public school districts in Connecticut, only 13 own and operate their school transportation program.