Mountain View bus drivers ask for contract changes

Mountain View transportation contractors are expected to sign a contract for the coming school year on June 30, but as of the Monday night school board meeting many questions about the proposal remain.

Several contractors peppered the board with questions and concerns about the contract, noting issues with the payment and blanket rate for the Flexible Instructional Days (FID) and a fuel cost adjustment.

“We’re taking a hit,” said one contractor. “We’re just trying to survive.”

The bulk of the comments focused on the five FID days – which are days when the district offers virtual instruction instead of in-school learning and buses do not run on those days.

Superintendent Dr. Mike Elia said the state allows up to five FID days but added, “If I can get (students) in school, I will get them in school.”

The payment for the contractors on the FID days was $160 in the contract, according to information provided at the meeting. But an increase to $175 per day was asked by the drivers for those days and the board acknowledged that change could be made.

A contractor said he had been told by the district business manager Thomas Witiak that the FID payment would be adjusted out of the contractors’ final checks – one issued in June/July for those that opted for the 12-month pay -when they have fewer driving expenses. Instead, the adjustment was pulled from the May check which also saw contractors face the “highest fuel prices of the year.”

The adjustment to the checks came with just one week notice, one contractor told the board, and amounted to a loss of one-quarter of his monthly income.

A contractor also suggested that instead of the blanket rate of $175 per day for the virtual instruction days, that the district utilize a percentage-based formula based on the length of the runs, saying that all contractors would then “take the same hit.”

“I look at us as a bussing group,” said one of the transportation contractors, “We can’t do it alone.”

A contractor also brought up the possibility of a fuel adjustment – extra compensation based on the price of fuel.

The discussion at the meeting followed a contentious meeting earlier this month, and the departure of Witiak from his position in the district. The board accepted his resignation, effective July 20.

Board president Jason Richmond said to the contractors, “If there is something we can do to make your lives easier, we will.” He said an addendum could be added to the contracts expected to be signed this week.

Sale of Land

The board approved an addendum to the agreement of sale for real estate, dated April 12, 2021, between the district and the Susquehanna County Recreation Center (SCRC). SCRC will now pay $50,000 for the purchase of the parcel.

The board also withdrew and ended its petition in the Court of Common Pleas, regarding the proposed property transfer.

School Budget/Lunch Prices

The board approved the final school budget of $22,462,896 for the 2022-23 year.

Cafeteria pricing for the coming year was also approved as follows:

Breakfast: Students/$1.10; Adult/$2;

Lunch: Students/$2.25; Adults/$3.50.

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