Unionville schools set to hire consultants to look at buses

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Could be first step to privatizing school bus fleet
By Mike McGann, Editor, UnionvilleTimes.com

The Unionville-Chadds Ford School District is expected to hire a consultant Monday night to look more closely at the district school bus fleet — and whether moving to an outside contractor is a better fiscal option.

EAST MARLBOROUGH — The Unionville-Chadds Ford Board of Education is expected to take the next step Monday night in the process of potentially privatizing school busing for the district’s 4,100 students — by approving a consulting deal for an outside company to look at district transportation.

The formal request for proposal went out last week and four companies — none who provide transportation services or transportation management tools — were expected to offer proposals. District Business Manager Robert Cochran said he and his staff expected to have all of the proposals in by this week and that his formal recommendation on the issue could be ready by late Friday. The board is expected to choose a company at Monday night’s monthly board meeting.

Cochran said that he doesn’t expect any of the proposals to be above $10,000. Board finance committee chair Keith Knaus asked that the RFP be sent out to the board of education.

The hiring of an outside consultant to look at the district’s transportation system is the next step in a process where the board could look to outsource the district’s school buses. At this point, though, Cochran stressed that no specific outcome is being looking for, other than coming up with options to improve the efficiency of the transportation system, whether it be by privatizing, making changes to the existing operation or a combination.

In other news, the district is looking for a new bank. After a recent merger, First National Bank of Chester County announced it would not continue to do governmental banking — that means Unionville needs to find a new banking partner, one that can locally accept tax payments from local residents. Cochran said he and his staff would be working with First National during the transition, but that changes would not happen until the spring, as taxpayers are sending payments to the lockbox at the bank.

While many banks offer government services, Cochran said he thought that the RFP needed to insure that local residents could pay their taxes in person at a local bank branch, as has been the case with First National.

Also, the school board firmed up its calendar for the remainder of 2010. The annual reorganization meeting will be Dec. 2 at 7:30 p.m., and a regular board session will follow on Dec. 13 to take up any action needed before the end of the year. The board elects its various officers and selects committee appointments during the reorganization meeting. Timotha Trigg currently serves as board president with Corrine Sweeney as vice president.

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