Yarmouth exploring use of contractors for school bus, custodial services

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YARMOUTH — The School Department is considering outsourcing the district’s bus drivers and custodians in an attempt to save money.

The School Committee and Superintendent Andrew Dolloff have begun studying the idea and plan to present a report to the public on Jan. 26, 2017. Dolloff said the committee will then discuss the proposal a few more times before making a decision.

“The School Committee is doing its due diligence to determine if outsourcing custodial and transportation services is in the best interest of the School Department,” Dolloff said.

The district’s strategic plan, which was created two years ago, lays out four focus areas; one is resource management. 

“Part of that strategic plan is making the district as efficient as possible,” Dolloff said.

According to the strategic plan, the objective of the resource management focus area is to utilize cost-effective resources that still meet the community’s expectation of quality.

Dolloff said while cost is a primary reason to consider contracting for drivers and custodians, the School Committee doesn’t want to sacrifice quality of service.

“You can always do things more cheaply, but they’re not always done as well,” he said.

Yarmouth bus driver Dennis Gervais said he opposes the idea of the district using private contractors.

“This can only be viewed as a short-sighted plan to save a few dollars at the expense of the safety and well being of your children,” he said.

Dolloff said it’s unknown how much money could be saved by outsourcing the services because the School Committee is still collecting data and doing research.

According to Dolloff, the district employs 12 full-time and part-time bus drivers as part of year’s $450,000 transportation budget. The district has one part-time and nine full-time custodians in a department with a budget of $660,000 this year.

Gervais, who has worked for the School Department for two years, said he previously worked for a large bus company. He said if Yarmouth outsources, the quality of transportation services would suffer.

“When the bottom line is the key motivational factor, independent bus companies will do, or at least attempt to do, whatever it takes in order to save a buck,” he said.

Dolloff said the School Committee over the past month has been speaking with officials at the Auburn School Department, which recently outsourced its bus services.

Kate Gardner can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or kgardner@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter: @katevgardner

I'm a reporter for The Forecaster covering Freeport, Yarmouth, Chebeague Island, and Cape Elizabeth. I'm from a small town in NH no one's ever heard of. When not reporting, I can be found eating pasta and reading books, often at the same time.