HomeMarlton NewsAfter no responses from bidders, Evesham Township School District drops current exploration...

After no responses from bidders, Evesham Township School District drops current exploration of privatizing bus drivers

As officially announced at the district’s most recent board of education meeting, the ETSD received no bids from private transportation companies to potentially provide the district with privatized drivers for its bus routes.

In the end, the Evesham Township School District offered a ride that no one was willing to take.

As announced at the district’s most recent board of education meeting, the ETSD received no bids from private transportation companies to potentially provide the district with privatized drivers for its bus routes.

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And so officially ends a topic of conversation that dominated much of the public comment at the district’s BOE meetings since the beginning of the year.

It was January when the board first approved a $13,500 consulting-services contract with the TransPar Group, from which the group was tasked with examining the district’s current busing services to write a bid package.

At the time, several of those members of the BOE who supported examining the issue said they were doing so to perform their “due diligence” as BOE members in response to recent cuts to the district’s state aid monies.

Before cuts were announced last summer, the district was set to originally receive about $14 million in state aid in relation to its $80.4 million general fund budget for 2018-2019 school year.

However, once cuts were announced, the district began predicting a total loss of state aid between $8 million and $9 million by the 2024–2025 school year once cuts were fully phased in, leaving the district with about $5.9 million in state aid each year after.

With that in mind, the district has been exploring possible cost savings outside of its normal measures.

Those cost savings have focused on a reduction in capital projects, staff restructuring (including the elimination of an assistant principal position, a grounds position, and transferring a full-time secretary and a full-time library clerk into two, part-time positions) and the potential privatization of district bus drivers.

However, as noted by the district throughout the process, the bid package that was created concerned only the potential privatization of the district’s drivers, while the district planned to continue employing its own bus aides and maintaining ownership of its buses.

The district also planned to continue using is current mechanics to maintain its buses.

The district’s bid package was finalized and made public in mid April, and although bids were then due in early May – the district received none.

“We had no responsive bidders,” Superintendent John Scavelli Jr. confirmed at the district’s latest BOE meeting.

Scavelli said the BOE’s finance committee discussed the situation in detail when the committee met before the BOE’s most recent meeting, and ultimately, Scavelli said he had no further action to recommend to the board.

That statement drew cheers from members of the audience at the board’s most recent meeting.

Since the board began examining its potential privatization of drivers in January, members of the public, district employees and members of the district’s transportation staff have used the portion of BOE meetings set aside for public comment to rally against any privatization efforts.

Those who spoke often referenced the lower pay and lack of benefits that many private companies offer to drivers, which speakers said caused a frequent turnover of privatized drivers and a lower quality of service as a result.

Consequently, speakers said Evesham’s current drivers were a known entity to the public, and those drivers were willing to go beyond their job description to serve the township’s families and do more to ensure the safety of the township’s children.

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