North Penn Neighbors for Progress does NOT endorse the outsourcing of bus routes to a private contractor for several reasons, learned through our research of the issue.
First and foremost is concern for the safety of our students. North Penn School District has gone to great lengths to ensure the safety of our students while they are in school, and they deserve the same consideration for safety as they are transported to and from school. In order to drive a bus in our district, North Penn’s drivers must go through a more rigorous training program than any contractors. This includes potentially life-saving training, such as how to use an epi-pen in case a child has an allergic reaction. Additionally, the turnover is much lower for in-house drivers than outsourced drivers, therefore our students and parents get to know their drivers, and vice versa – this is especially important for our younger students, so that they are in a safe, supportive bus environment.
Beyond safety, there are also serious economic implications. While transportation is one of the highest expenses in the school budget, and the goal of the current Republican-led board is to reduce “benefit-bearing employees,” a lack of strategic foresight will result in any cost savings being negated as our fleet is sold off and we cede local control to a private contractor. Short term-gains will not produce long-term savings.
Once a district has sold their fleet, it is cost-prohibitive to reinvest in another fleet of buses. Of significant importance to managing risk, while the district would no longer have control over who is driving their students, NPSD will still remain liable. Studies have shown that once outsourced bussing happens, contractors raise the rates per route, charge extra for extra-curricular activities and gain significant leverage over taxpayers – contractors are, after all, in business to make a profit. Therefore, the lack of competition for such outsourcing in our region further limits options to negotiate better rates and services as contracts mature. This concern has already surfaced at one school district in our region. NPNP will not make the same mistake.
Our opponents are playing politics and spreading rumors that your North Penn Neighbors for Progress are the candidates that support outsourcing the routes to a private contractor. NPSD’s independence, fiscal health and the well being of our students is not a political matter. Realize that three of the five Republican candidates currently serve on the board. It is the current Republican controlled board that has already started, and supports, the outsourcing of routes to a private entity.
With long-term consideration for our community, and a belief that the safety of our children should always be our top priority, we stand by our bus drivers.