PRESTON, Conn. — The board of Preston Public Schools voted Monday night to not privatize the district’s transportation services this school year, although board members said that they may revisit the idea next year.
In the spring, the Preston board voted to conduct a feasibility study “to determine the potential costs and other benefits which would result from contracting out transportation services.”
But the district’s unionized school bus drivers fought the possible outsourcing, launching a petition drive calling for a public hearing.
The drivers were pleased with the outcome of Monday night’s vote.
"For months, parents and taxpayers have made their voices heard," said Preston school bus driver Rebecca Boenig, a member of the negotiating committee for the CSEA/SEIU Local 2001 chapter. "I'm relieved the board realized that handing over school bus services to outside companies isn't what's best for our students."
As it was considering the idea of outsourcing earlier in the year, the Preston board of education said that if it were to contract out transportation services, it would stipulate in its request for proposals that the successful contractor “must consider current employees for employment.” The board also said then that it would expect the contractor to provide “a similar wage package for the drivers.”
Now, with the possibility of outsourcing this year having been set aside, the drivers union and the school board will work on a successor to the drivers’ contract that expired in June.
According to the school board's figures, among the 169 public school districts in Connecticut, only 13 own and operate their school transportation program.