Unionville to get bids on outsourcing busing

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While those bids are expected until next month, with bids expected to be opened on April 22, the subject seems to have touched off a great of passionate debate, as evidenced by the comments during the meeting, by the public, and in some continued verbal sniping among members of the board. Krapf’s, the West Chester-based company that handles many local school districts, came under special attack for alleged safety issues and lax standards of hiring.

“This is the most assinine, stupid accounting trick I’ve ever heard of,” said parent Joe Claffy of Pocopson, suggesting that bus company owners have grown rich while cutting corners. “All that money is going to go into Krapf’s pockets and these people who will be driving these buses will be dirtballs.”

Various drivers spoke of their encounters, either as prospective employees or employees of some of the local private bus companies, painting a dire picture in terms of safety, in particular. Jim Turner, a driver who lives in Birmingham, talked about interviewing with a contractor and a Delaware County public school prior to interviewing for a job with Unionville last year.

“I was asked ‘do you have a CDL (Commercial Drivers License)? How many hours can you work?’ Not one word about safety,” Turner said. “When I spoke with Gail Wolfel (the district’s Supervisor of Transportation), the first thing she asked me was ‘what did I think about safety?’ In none of the other interviews did the individuals say anything about safety. After I spoke with her, I spoke with a couple of bus drivers there. And they talked about the safety of ‘our’ kids. When I left, I was impressed. And even though the other opportunities paid more on a dollar basis, I knew this is where I wanted to be. These drivers love these kids.”

Deborah Carr, a long-time bus driver for the district, spoke about her time driving for Krapf’s before she joined the district.

“I came from Krapf’s, I know what’s there,” she said. “At Krapf’s everything is covered up. If there’s an accident, you don’t see it in the paper. If something happens here, it’s always in the newspaper, everyone knows about it.”

Carr said, from her experience, the maintenance standards weren’t comparable between the school district and private bus companies.

“When I hit my brakes, I know they’re going to stop me,” she said. “That wasn’t always the case with Krapf’s.”

Although most of the meeting was passionate but civil, tempers began to heat up as the meeting continued. Some parents objected to documents distributed by board member Paul Price, citing Wall Street Journal stories about public employee benefits and their impact on education programs, and Price referred to them noting that homeowners were paying tens of thousands of dollars a year in property taxes in Bronxville, N.Y.

“Those are multi-million dollar homes,” said parent Brian Dougherty of East Marlborough. He suggested that one of the stories had been poorly written and that Price was drawing the opposite conclusion intended from the other. “This is a poorly chosen thing to distribute — just to denigrate people.”

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One Comment

  1. Kate Dwyer says:

    I can almost guarantee you that when it’s all said and done, if we outsource this, we won’t save any money, we’ll have a worsened safety record, and parents will be complaining about poor service. Perhaps it’s an extreme comparison, but ask anyone in Chicago if they’re happy that former mayor Daley “outsourced” the parking meters. (Look it up) This is a bad road to go down, all so we can – maybe? – save a few pennies now. We’ll regret it in the long run.

    As for Paul Price handing out that story about Bronxville NY, well I read that story a few weeks ago, and a whinier bunch of overprivileged hedgefund managers you’ll never want to meet. Like a crab in a bucket, Price apparently wants to make sure no one has a decent living wage and middle class standard of living anymore, starting with bus drivers and teachers.

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