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Regional School Unit 5 bus drivers keep their jobs while budget discussions continue

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Regional School Unit 5 bus drivers keep their jobs while budget discussions continue

FREEPORT — The Regional School Unit 5 board of directors voted Feb. 24 to retain bus transportation services for one more year.

The decision means the district will not replace the district-owned buses and drivers with a privatized transportation company, despite facing a projected $900,000 reduction in state aid in next year's budget.

The RSU 5 board voted 10-0, with board member Johnathan Dawson abstaining, to go essentially retain the current services. The primary difference is that RSU 5 will lease two buses instead of three.

Currently, the district owns 14 buses. Three more are leased and six are contracted. The proposal to hire a contractor, sell the buses and eliminate driving positions was one way RSU 5 could have saved nearly $86,000 in transportation costs.

The transportation budget is $1.06 million.

Superintendent Shannon Welsh said the board voted to lease buses for Pownal students and will replace an existing lease contract. They will negotiate a deal with another bus company as soon as the next school year.

The status quo option will cost $1,150 more per year because the two leased buses will be newer than the three currently rented.

"We will continue to own the buses and employ the drivers," Welsh said. "There will be no savings realized this way."

The board will meet on Tuesday, March 9 at 6:30 at the Freeport High School library to continue budget discussions.

Amy Anderson can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or aanderson@theforecaster.net