It is just one simple sentence, but it has sent shockwaves through the Methacton School District. And according to district officials, it may not even be accurate.
A recent article in the Times Herald reported that the district would see a financial savings in a contract change regarding the transportation services provided to students via busing.
“Another source of increased revenue came from the district replacing Methacton’s bus fleet by out of district contracting,” reads the line in the Herald’s article. Without any further explanation, the article only goes on to say how well the district seems to be doing with its 2014-15 budget.
The line caught the attention of many local parents and bloggers alike.
“Methacton Politics” writer Kyle Allebach noted the outrage in his blog about such a change as far back as September of 2013. His blog mentions that a request for proposal was posted via the public notice section in The Times Herald asking for “reputable and qualified bus transportation companies for furnishing students’ transportation services.”
“Or if you don’t talk in corporate-speak 24/7, they’re looking to outsource the transportation,” said Allebach in his Sept. 12, 2013 blog.
The notice has since been removed, due to limits on the search feature of the Herald’s website. It does not appear notices older than 60 days can easily be found online.
More confusion has been added to local Facebook pages as parents and concerned citizens circulate the questionable news.
One well-shared commenter noted “After doing some research today, I found that the new company's busses are highly deficient in safety, are poorly maintained, and not to mention the drivers are extremely low paid, and that they have a lot of driver-related issues.”
As parents continue to hear rumors of a change, not much has been noted publicly.
Andrea Linch, coordinator of School and Community Information for the district, said the rumor seems to revolve around the one line in the Herald.
“This confusion may have resulted from a misquote that appeared in a recent Times Herald article that summarized the March 18 School Board work session meeting,” said Linch in an email to LP TAP. “At this time, the Board and Administration have made no decision relative to the outsourcing of transportation services.”
Parents seem not to be the only ones circulating concern. Bus drivers, whose names have been withheld by LP TAP for their protection, said that they too have heard bad things about a change coming and worry about their future employment should a change occur.
A school board meeting will be held tonight at 7 p.m., on the regular schedule for the board. Any bids for a change in contract would have to be approved or accepted during a public meeting.
According to the currently proposed budget, Student Transportation is slated to spend $7,185,931 for the coming year, with only $1,384,739 given toward the cost in revenue by the state government. Though the budget was preliminarily accepted in a February board meeting, a proposed budget adoption will not occur until May 20, with a final approval not slated until June 17.
According to the 2013-14 budget, $6,940,901 is spent on student transportation, meaning the costs for the future year will actually be increasing, not marking any “increased revenue,” as noted by the Herald.
LP TAP will be present at the meeting Tuesday night, and will update the news site with any future information regarding the transportation contracts and other district business. Stay informed via the LP TAP newsletter by signing up here.