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Press Release: Preston School Board Puts Breaks on Bus Privatization

District school bus drivers applaud decision at Monday’s Board of Education meeting to drop proposals to contract-out student transportation services to outside companies: In a victory for students, parents, and taxpayers, the Board of Education voted last night to keep Preston’s school bus services under local authority and control. The action followed months of public debate as school officials considered outsourcing the district’s student transportation to private, for-profit companies. Preston’s school bus drivers are welcoming the opportunity the decision brings to work collaboratively with the Board of Education on issues of mutual concern.

“For months, parents and taxpayers have made their voices heard,” Preston school bus driver Rebecca Boenig said after last night’s vote vote. “I’m relieved the board realized that handing over school bus services to outside companies isn’t what’s best for our students,” said Boenig, a member of the negotiating committee for the CSEA/SEIU Local 2001 chapter representing school bus drivers employed by the Board of Education.

The Board of Education’s decision to keep school bus services local is recognition of Boenig and her co-workers’ ability to deliver safe, reliable, and cost-effective transportation services for families in Preston. It is also acknowledgement of the value the district’s school bus drivers provide for the community, and the importance of maintaining secure jobs with fair wages as the town continues its slow economic recovery.

“Now Preston’s families won’t have to worry about who will be providing their students’ transportation,” Pearl Potter, who is also employed by the Board of Education as a school bus driver, said at last night’s meeting. “Out of town companies don’t have the same commitment to our community. To them, it’s about profits. To us drivers, it’s about the kids,” Potter, who also serves on the Union’s negotiating committee, said.

Since April, Potter and her fellow Union members have organized high profile efforts to raise community awareness of the cost of privatizing the district’s school bus services. With the vote to abandon outsourcing, the bus drivers look forward to reaching a mutual agreement with the Board of Education on a successor to their contract that expired in June.

Contact:  Matt O’Connor, CSEA/SEIU Local 2001 – (860) 221-5696 (cell)

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