over 40 years.
At that May meeting, many Rinehimer bus drivers pleaded with the school board to keep doing business with their company. However, Rinehimer had declined to renew its contract with Crestwood, causing the district to put the bus contract out to bid and the MTBC, not Rinehimer, was the low bidder.
Crestwood’s transportation cost is roughly $2.6 million per year. The MTBC contract, over its five-year life, is said to save the district half a million dollars. This is partly because Foley’s proposal asked for 0% above the state reimbursement rate for each year of the five-year contract.
Some Rinehimer bus drivers stated at board meetings and in letters to the newspaper that they signed a petition that they would not work for the new company. They questioned the MTBC’s ability to provide enough experienced and capable drivers for Crestwood.
This week, Shoemaker told The Eagle that the MTBC is confident in the number of drivers it has. Newspaper ads offered a $1,000 sign-on bonus for Rinehimer drivers willing to work for the MTBC and the company has invited Rinehimer drivers to information sessions to “clear the rumors” that he says have been circulating to potential drivers about his company.
Some Rinehimer drivers have signed on with MTBC, and so have some drivers from other districts, who were offered a $550 bonus for their driving experience, Shoemaker reported. His company won’t turn away any Rinehimer drivers that express interest in working there, he added.
At previous school board meetings, members of the community raised concerns about the identity of the new company’s bus drivers, since many of the Rinehimer drivers have been busing children to Crestwood for decades.
The state has a list of qualifications that school bus drivers must meet, Shoemaker replied. While his company would love as many Rinehimer drivers to join their operation, experienced drivers from other districts will be asset to the company as well, he said.
The MTBC’s website states that its drivers and monitors “must satisfy stringent requirements to ensure they can meet the challenges and physical necessities for both routine and emergency situations.”
It goes on to state that extensive criminal background checks are done on its drivers, as well as random drug and alcohol testing. In Crestwood’s contract with the company, safety regulations pertaining to both buses and drivers are specifically outlined and, if those requirements are not met, the district has the right to terminate the contract.
In May, it was reported that the MTBC was prepared to purchase $2.8 million worth of new and used buses –a point that appealed to school board members when entering into the transportation contract with the company.
The buses will be stored at a property on Route 309 in Wright Township, at another in Dorrance, and some drivers will park their buses at their homes, Shoemaker explained this week.
Not all of the buses are new, but the Crestwood transportation contract states that the average age of the buses need to be five years old or less, Shoemaker said, which is reflected in the buses purchased so far.
The transportation contract states that it is up to the MTBC to designate bus routes and stops. Those routes must be approved by the Crestwood School Board at its August meeting.
Shoemaker created eight scenarios of routes that would work for the MTBC, reviewed those scenarios with district officials, and has now narrowed the choices down.
“It’s kind of like a puzzle, so it’s fun developing the routes,” he said. “We’re excited about the new routes we’re working on. We think they’ll be more efficient and there will be less time on the bus for students.”
In previous years, Crestwood has utilized 34 buses and seven vans for about 1,000 students. Those buses were not filled to capacity, Shoemaker claimed, and, with his plan, more students will ride each bus but the buses still will not reach capacity.
Shoemaker anticipates using 25 buses instead of 34. Students who live further from the schools will be picked up first and those closer will be picked up last, he said. He reiterated that the final details of the MTBC’s transportation plan will not be worked out for a few weeks, until final technicalities such as the school rosters are in place.