Parents Oppose Outsourcing School Busing

PARADISE TOWNSHIP, Pa. -- Two hundred bus drivers from the Pocono Mountain School District have their jobs on the line.

The school board is considering hiring an outsourced bus company.

That bus company says it will keep those 200 school bus drivers if they meet the company's qualifications, which would include passing background checks and drug tests.

A sign showing support for school bus drivers sits outside Betty Kruk's house in Coolbaugh Township. Her dad drove for the Pocono Mountain School District, and she's worried about what might happen if the school board decides to outsource its busing.

"We just don't feel it's fair to have 200 people who are community members and friends lose their jobs to an outsourced company," Kruk said.

The school board held a meeting at Pocono Mountain East High School Wednesday night to hear the busing company's proposal.

Sixth grader Maggie Lowther came to the meeting with her mind made up.

"We trust our bus drivers. Now, we're not going to know who's driving our buses. We may have temporary bus drivers, and it makes me really mad," Lowther said.

And she isn't the only one. Hundreds packed into the auditorium, some wearing yellow shirts to show their opposition to the idea of hiring new drivers.

"We absolutely love our bus driver. I put the kids on the bus every morning. I never have to worry about their safety, so it was a no brainer to do something special such as the shirts," said Kathy Popa, a first grade teacher at Swiftwater Elementary.

The bus company says it doesn't want to replace the current system but rather enhance it with added safety measures including GPS tracking. Some people weren't buying it.

"Why would you risk losing reliable, qualified employees? Nearly half of these employees have between 10-33 years of service working for the district. Is this how you reward longevity?"

The school bus company says they would not only keep all the school bus drivers the school district already has if they meet their qualifications, but the bus drivers would also be allowed to keep their routes.

"In this case, it's important to us that we are able to hire as many of the current workforce that we can because they already know the students' faces. They already know the routes that they travel down," said Jim Woods, First Student Busing Company.

School bus drivers asked the board to reject the proposal.

"Keep strangers out of our schools. Quality, safety, and control should not be for sale to the lowest bidder," said bus driver Dawn Cello.

Even though the meeting went on for close to three hours, no decision was made Wednesday night.

4 comments

  • whopperplopper

    “Nearly half of these employees have between 10-33 years of service working for the district. Is this how you reward longevity?”
    you answered your own question.
    it comes down to who owes who a favor.
    let’s do away with elected school boards & hire a professional company to run school districts.
    then nobody owes anybody anything.

  • jsrant

    What part of keeping the drivers at the same job and route don’t you understand? These drivers should of already passed a background check and drug test. If this hasn’t been done then the district didn’t do a good job at hiring. You should ask that question people. You might have a criminal d r icing your kids. Also, interviewing a sixth grader, really. Not to bright WNEP.

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