The district and the student transportation company First Student Inc. will
discontinue their relationship after the 2014-15 school year. This means that
the district will take full control over its student transportation operation
with district-employed bus drivers.
The contract with First Student allowed either party to opt-out of it with 120-days notice, which First Student recently submitted. The district had subcontracted for drivers only with the Ohio-based company at the start of the 2013-14 school year. Niskayuna maintained its bus fleet, mechanics, and department coordination and dispatching services throughout.
First Student will continue to provide bus drivers through the end of the current year.
The district took a step toward hiring its own drivers again earlier this year in a re-worked contract with the Niskayuna School District Employees Association (NSDEA) bargaining unit. Under that agreement, the district was to phase drivers back into district employment over a period of years.
"This decision really accelerates that plan so that it will happen all at once at the start of next year," Interim Superintendent John Yagielski said. "Our parents and community can be sure that our top priority is providing Niskayuna students with safe and reliable rides to and from school. We know we can do it, and that is where our efforts will be focused as we plan for next year."
"I want to express our sincere appreciation for everyone who has driven our students over the last couple years. They have done it in a caring and professional manner, regardless of who they worked for," Mr. Yagielski added. "I also want to thank First Student for its continued efforts to provide that very same level of service to our district and our families."
Re-establishing a staff of district bus drivers will be part of the district budget for 2015-16 that will be presented in the coming weeks.