April 8, 2021
From Sherri McNAMARA
Can someone please tell me why Wappingers is contracting out the Bus Company Orange County Transit?? I work for Wappingers and have lived in Wappingers school district for over 50 years and have never seen full size buses being contracted out. I have 2 concerns. 1st: as an employee I see more bus drivers being deemed to cleaning schools while bus runs are being contracted out. 2nd: As a tax payer. What is going to happen to all of these Union jobs the bus drivers currently have. Is Wappingers looking to dispose of these union jobs? How much money is Wappingers saving to contract out Buses. Thank you. Sherri
WCSD had a need to contract with an outside vendor due to the transportation requirements set forth by the NYS Department of Health (DOH) in order to open school in the fall of 2020. Additionally, there were not enough bus drivers employed or eligible for employment due to a national shortage that has been documented for quite some time.
To attempt to relieve the pressure of the small pool of eligible drivers, WCSD began a driver training program. It is free to any bus driver candidates and is run by WCSD Transportation supervisory staff and WCSD driving staff. This program has produced 5 drivers to date all of which have been hired by WCSD while several others are still working toward the required licensure. Additionally, WCSD has placed notices of open positions in newsprint sources, on school marquees, and on our facilities and courier vehicles.
The civil service title for these staff is driver/cleaners. It is completely allowable that these staff members can clean in buildings. That being said, as for drivers being deemed to cleaning in schools, this is only being done on their non-driving time to fill out their day - whether that be 5 or 8 hours. This need to fill out the workday is a direct result of the in-person and hybrid learning that has been required and expanded throughout this school year. The increased building time is completely related to the pandemic. The contracted vendor would still be necessary whether the WCSD drivers were working in school buildings or not for the reasons noted above.
The Union has not lost any positions from the use of the contracted vendor nor is the District looking to eliminate bus driver positions. Again, the contracted vendor is needed because of the shortage of bus drivers and the increased requirements of transportation by NYS DOH. As the District continues to hire eligible drivers, the additional need for the contracted vendor will diminish and subsequently be eliminated.