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Mamaroneck Schools Might Outsource All Transportation

MAMARONECK, N.Y. -- Savings or jobs? That is the dilemma faced by the Mamaroneck Board of Education as it weighs the option of fully outsourcing the district's transportation services.

At their study session Tuesday night, the school administration presented information on full outsourcing, should the board pursue it. While the estimated first-year savings would be approximately $835,000, their recommendation includes retaining a few employees, dispatchers and mechanics among them.  After factoring in employee costs, the district would save an estimated $559,241. The savings, projected in a 2010 study by Management Partnership Service, Inc, are based on the district's current contract with Ardsley Bus Company.

The district currently uses a blended transportation model, in which it busses 25 routes, and contracts with Ardsley Bus Company to provide 19 routes, Dr. Robert Shaps, school superintendent, said. Mamaroneck is two years in on a five-year contract on this basis.

"Any consideration to fully outsource will have some dramatic impact on the part and full-time bus drivers, mechanics, and people who work in the school system," Shaps said. "And we certainly understand the seriousness of that situation."

The district employs 27 full and part-time bus drivers to transport 604 students, the majority of whom attend private or parochial schools outside of the district. Shaps said the Ardsley Bus Company inidcated it might consider absorbing district employees whose jobs would be lost as a result of the outsourcing proposal.

The projected savings for full outsourcing, in addition to the proposed use of public transportation for private and parochial bus routes, would be $707,001 in the first year, Shaps said.

Ann Marie Terrone, who is the director of Keeps , an after-school program for kindergarten through sixth grade students, doesn't like the idea of outsourcing.

"If we went to Ardsley or another bus route, it would cost us over $54,000-a-year," Terrone said. "That's a quarter of our budget over the school year. I would not be able to pay my rent, I would not be able to pay my staff, and I would not be so assured of safe transportation for my children."

Terrone, in addition to several district bus drivers and other CSEA representatives also present, questioned the Ardsley Bus Company drivers' adherence to safety, citing their own accounts of traffic infractions, and improper loading and unloading of passengers.

Other residents, including Sandy Rosenbaum, had a different perspective on the bus issue. Rosenbaum said she has had no more issues with them than with the district buses, but still believes the district should maintain their own fleet.

Jonathan Sacks, a town resident and member of the citizens financial advisory committee, which helps the board address the fiscal issues facing the district, empathized with both sides of the argument, and said he didn't envy the position the board was in.

"How about our other unions step up to support the group here and perhaps decide concessions can be made elsewhere," said Sacks, suggesting collective bargaining units use a more holistic approach to the issue. "If not, we're left with no other route to go down. I think you're looking at an important line item, one that has tremendous opportunity and one that will help us to save teaching jobs in the long run to support our kids."

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