The Facts and Future of Wareham School Busing

By Mike Flaherty | Apr 19, 2013

The results have been in for a little while now and there is no longer any doubt that it is cheaper to keep school busing managed in-house by the Wareham Public School District than it is to outsource it to a private company. How much cheaper? Over $400,000 cheaper.

That was the conclusion of a process shepherded by the Transportation Action Committee which was convened to tackle the issue of providing safe and affordable busing for the children of Wareham’s public schools. That five member committee has been meeting for about a year and has included the following members over that time period; School Committee Chair Geoff Swett, School Superintendent Dr. Barry Rabinovitch, Selectman Ellen Begley , Selectman Alan Slavin, Capital Planning member Mary Jane Driscoll, Capital Planning member Frank Heath, former Town Administrator Mark Andrews , and current Town Administrator Derek Sullivan. In other words, all of the right people meeting in one room putting their heads together, and for the most part, putting their politics aside.

 

The result was a Request for Proposal (RFP) seeking bids from private companies to provide the identical level of service that the District currently provides in-house. In other words, the so-called “apples to apples” bid. There were other lesser levels of service that the Committee sought to be bid as well. However, the two companies who responded chose only to bid on the current full level of service.

 

When this process started, I was not yet on the School Committee. I was a candidate, and I had my own doubts at the time that keeping transportation in-house was more cost effective than outsourcing it. Regardless, as I stated at the time, for me any decision to privatize school busing would be decided by the numbers. Now the data is in and it is clear. Wareham could provide safe transportation services for all grade levels for the annual cost of $1.6 million dollars.1 The closest a private company came to providing the same level of service was $2.3 million dollars. That’s a fact, and it was more than enough for me to remove my skepticism.

 

That’s great news, Right? And it is.

 

Unfortunately, there is still one problem. Notice, I said that we “could” provide these services for about $1.6 million. Sadly, the reality is that despite the major cost savings the Town has seen from keeping busing in-house, the transportation budget remains chronically underfunded year after year. Those deficits have been made up by, among other things, forgoing the purchase of newer and safer buses. The result is a bus fleet with an average age of 8 years with some of those vehicles being as old as 1998 models (14 years old). Compare that to the goal of an average age of 5 years if we just funded it properly - all the while saving hundreds of thousands of dollars yearly from not privatizing.

 

That brings us to today where we are trying to balance the FY14 budget. The School Committee has voted for the necessary $1,601,056 for Transportation. That was our vote on January 30th, and reaffirmed on April 3rd. Barring any other votes in the mean time, that will be the figure presented to Town Meeting from the School Committee.

 

However, the Town Administrator’s budget currently includes about $1,450,000 million for Transportation. That’s a $150,000 shortfall in funding for the busing of Wareham’s students . To be clear, the $1.4 million put forth by the Town Administrator is indeed a good-faith number that he produced. The Town truly does not have the additional money in FY14 to fund busing any higher without taking it from somewhere else.

 

That “somewhere else” would have to come from areas in the budget such as the Town Library, Police Department, Municipal Maintenance, additional debt, or even from the educational side of the school budget (Net School Spending). And for those who have been paying attention, that portion of the school budget still needs to be reconciled too. But that’s a topic for another discussion.

 

What I’m trying to get at is that regardless of the figure that the School Committee has already voted on for busing (1.6 million), it isn’t guaranteed to sustain a Town Meeting vote. So it is only prudent to have a Plan B in case it doesn’t pass.

 

I call that Plan B the latest proposal from the Transportation Director & School Superintendent. You have perhaps read about this proposal in Wareham Week. The long story-short is that the current 2 tiers of service (Elementary Schools at one time, plus Middle/High Schools together at another time) are made into 3 tiers of service by having separate busing times for the Middle and High schools. The result is the use of 5 less buses and thusly 5 less bus drivers. Frankly this latest proposal was actually a remarkable feat where all involved really sharpened their pencils to make it work within the Town Administrator’s budget.

However, as you might imagine there is at least one downside. Not all of the students currently being bused will be bused under the new proposal due to a “hard-limit” of a one mile minimum distance from door to door being imposed. Notably, there are two communities inside of the 1-mile cutoff that will be impacted. Those communities are Oakdale and Swifts Beach which are currently being bused today but would no longer be transported if this goes through.

 

That’s about 80 Middle Schoolers in grades 5-8 and 45 High Schoolers in grades 9-12. In the context of about 2,800 students who attend Wareham Public Schools, that might not be much. However in addition to all of the usual safety issues that go along with kids walking where there are no sidewalks (in winter or not), there are other factors that make the notion of kids walking alone in the Swifts Beach area particularly unsettling to parents in that neighborhood. Personally, it is for this reason that I supported to retain the current level of service and let Town Meeting have the choice of reducing buses or not.

 

There really are no easy answers here. There are trade offs either way. The current level of busing would continue to bus the Oakdale and Swifts Beach communities. However, Plan B has the added bonus (beyond savings) of separating the busing of Middle schoolers and High schoolers. This was something that parents throughout the District overwhelmingly voiced concerns about during a public hearing before the School Committee.

 

The fact is that I fully expect Plan B to pass at Town Meeting given the dire economic status that Wareham truly is in. It almost has to. However, I do want the community to go into this vote with their eyes wide open and knowing exactly what the future of busing our kids really means - beyond just the numbers.

 

The full video of the school bus discussion is available Here.

The Power Point presentation slides for the discussion are available Here.

 

Thank You For Your Time,
Mike Flaherty

 

 


1. The $1.6 million comes from the line item of the Transportation Budget (non-net school spending). This is what the School Committee has requested. The figure of almost $1.9 million shown in the graphic gives the larger picture of in-kind monies from the municipal budget. At the request of the Town Administrator, this was included in the analysis in order to account for the maximum cost associated with covering benefits of current employees who qualify for them, i.e. not only the health care contributions but also all of the other contributions made by the Town for any full-time employee, e.g. unemployment, social security, and Medicare. It also includes funds needed above and beyond the Transportation revolving account needed to purchase buses on an ongoing basis.


Note: Any opinions expressed here are my own and I am not speaking for any groups or organizations that I may be a member of.

Comments (58)
Posted by: Mike Flaherty | Apr 19, 2013 13:36

When I originally posted this article elsewhere, it was to answer some questions I had received and to clear up misinformation that folks may have been told. Afterall, it is a complex issue.

 



Unfortunately, moments after posting my article, it was met with added misinformation.


That newest misinformation is cleared up here...

 

 

http://www.warehamforum.com/main3/index.php/forum/4-town-talk/26-busing-facts

 

 

In the interest of full disclosure, the link above goes to a website that I manage.  I would be happy to copy/paste the same posts here.  However, I make use of additional images and video containing the salient facts, and I don't think that it is possible to include them in the "comment" interface here on Wareham Week.  If there is a way, then someoone just please let me know.

 



Posted by: KAREN SPINKS | Apr 19, 2013 14:30

FYI... the Gatra bus service runs along Swift's Beach Rd so there is available transportation to school from that neighborhood.



Posted by: Peaches0409 | Apr 19, 2013 16:14

You're kidding right Karen? The bus would cost kids $1.00 per day round trip and last time I knew service didn't begin until 8 am well after the school day begins. SMH



Posted by: justin beiber | Apr 19, 2013 16:43

 

The entire city of Boston is on lock-down, while swat teams hunt down the Marathon bomber.

And you guys are discussing school buses.



Posted by: KAREN SPINKS | Apr 19, 2013 16:44

Perhaps the bus service along that route could begin earlier in that case.



Posted by: KAREN SPINKS | Apr 19, 2013 16:49

I forgot to add that there is a $150,000 shortfall in funding for buses so it's certainly a valid idea.



Posted by: Peaches0409 | Apr 19, 2013 21:33

Pretty sure starting the bus earlier for the entire school year wouldn't be free. Also, as I said it's $1 a day round trip for students. Who may I ask is going to pay that? Many of the kids that will not be bussed are coming form the Woods at Wareham. They can hardly afford that.



Posted by: justin beiber | Apr 20, 2013 06:32

 

Instead of reading Mr. Flaherty's "opinion" on this subject, I'd prefer to see an enlargement of the comparison grid.

I'm unable to download the power presentation slides, because I don't subscribe to Microsoft Office.

But I did notice the $200,000 needed to replace buses is not listed nor are unforeseen maintenance costs.

The second Marathon Bomber was captured last night.



Posted by: KAREN SPINKS | Apr 20, 2013 08:55

Woods of Wareham is within walking distance of the schools and there are sidewalks all the way. This is not a reason to raise RE taxes to provide a bus service. I ask the same question. Who is going to pay for this?



Posted by: bob | Apr 20, 2013 09:42

when you have 96% of the towns and cities in the state putting out there school bus service out to bid then i say do it..this town is not dover or wellesley..this is wareham...get rid of the busses..



Posted by: PMB | Apr 20, 2013 20:01

Bob..It would be nice if we could "get rid of the busses" as you suggest, however state law mandates the conditions under which bus service must be provided.  I understand that you would like to see the Town (and it is the Town, not the schools per se) outsource the bus contract.  I would too, if it save money!  The problem is that it doesn't, in fact, by the comparisons given above, it would cost about a half million dollars a year more to outsource based on the most recent study and by the bids provided by two private contractors.  This has been studied over and over, and each time the results have been the same.  It is much cheaper to run our own system.  I won't go over all the reasons why again or try to explain the reasons why few New England towns got into the bus business.  I'm sure you will not be convinced, but keep in mind the bottom line here.  If we outsource, and it costs more (a least a half million dollars a year) remember one thing.  School busing is NOT part of net school spending.  The money comes out of the town side of the budget.  That extra half million that you want to spend will have to come out of the police, municipal maint., council on aging, etc budgets.  Not the school budget. (The min. net school spending is set by the state, and we are already there, or close to it).  So sell off the fleet.  That will solve the problem for one year....then prepare to carve out another half million from all the other town services from the second year on.  Let's take one of few things we do that actually saves us money...and scrap it....so we can be like all the other towns!



Posted by: PMB | Apr 20, 2013 20:11

Bob..one more thing.  It has been said that the figures are an apples to oranges comparison because the town run system does not take into account the cost of the buses or repairs.  That is simply not true.  If you look at the comparison chart of the town costs vs. the bids, there is a line item of $115,000 for capital costs included in the town's expenses.  What you don't see in the bids are the "hidden costs" from the contractors.  These would include fuel adjustment clauses that kick in if the price of diesel fuel goes over a certain set figure, and the costs associated with athletic trips and field trips.  Instead of paying for fuel, and a driver in a bus we own, we would have to pay fees for bus use, mileage, and usually a minimum number of hours (usually 4) for a driver.  That makes that short hop over to Old Rochester or Bourne quite pricey.



Posted by: Zephyr | Apr 20, 2013 21:14

Every year I attend the Cranberry Festival.  We always take the trip to the other side of the bogs by way of the Wareham School Buses.  It may be a short ride but not a smooth ride at all.  Now that's a lot of wear and tear on these School Buses.



Posted by: bob | Apr 20, 2013 22:02

pmb,well thats the way i see it.if 96% of the cities and towns dont run there bus fleet, there is a reason,,,LONG RUN SAVINGS...PERIOD....



Posted by: PMB | Apr 20, 2013 22:44

Bob..The fact of the matter is that 100% of towns that do not run their own buss system already, are not likely to start this endeavor in today's economic climate.  It takes a giant capital investment to start a town run system, and towns just don't have the money to do this.  The FACTS show that it is much more economical for a municipality to own and operate a school transportation system (That's why it is common in most other parts of the country),  Rather than forming an opinion on "the way i see it", look at the FACTS, and try to form an opinion that is based on the studies done and the actual bids that have been submitted.  Also,try to consider the impact higher transportation costs will have on the rest of the town budget.  It just may be that 96% of the towns in Mass. would like to have the system we have, but can not afford to start such a system.



Posted by: bob | Apr 21, 2013 06:28

pmb,as i said ,im sure most of the towns and cities of the 96%,wouldnt want a system as we have....or im sure they would be looking at keeping it in house,even in economic times......



Posted by: bob | Apr 21, 2013 06:52

my last comment should have read ,economic hard times.......



Posted by: Andrea Smith | Apr 21, 2013 11:30

Mr. Flaherty (Mike) :

 

So that readers can better understand the responsibilities of  school committee members as they relate to school committee/department information and the dissemination of such information via personally hosted blogs and response to questions directed to school committee members via discussions on the internet:

 

Are you perhaps not responding to Archangel's question under the discussion "A request for Mike Plaherty's Opinion" because you do not feel it is appropriate to do so?

 

If yes, what makes answering Archangel's question not appropriate and the posting of your blog "The Facts and Future of Wareham School Busing" and the specific information it provides appropriate?

 

If you feel responding to Archangel's question is not appropriate, to whom should the question be directed and what is the appropriate protocol for directing the question?



Posted by: Mike Flaherty | Apr 22, 2013 00:08

Andrea, becoming an elected official does not mean that one loses his or her freedom of speech.  There was actually an orientation class that I attended in Barnstable.  The class occurs each year to acquaint new school committee members with the role.  It was helpful but really it didn't go into much more detail than was provided by any one of the seminars that Town Counsel has put on in the past for any of the elected/appointed members of our Town. 

 

The bottom line is that anyone is free to express/inform/advocate whatever they wish.  However, the speaker should make it clear if they speaking for themselves unless it is to convey a formal position of the board.  As you will note, I did put such a disclaimer on my blog article. 

 

We were also taught that even if we do this, we have no control over being misrepresented by others as speaking for the whole group even when we are clear that we are not.

 

Nonetheless, Andrea, within a single paragraph that Robert Slager wrote, I was able to ascertain no less than three "Factual Inaccuracies".  And that's describing them politely in light of the fact that he chose to call me a "liar".

 

Andrea, I do value your opinion.  Do you consider me to be a liar?  I would appreciate an answer to that.



Posted by: NativeSun | Apr 22, 2013 06:54

Andrea, maybe he chose not to answer the question because whenever an anonymous blogger calls out only one member of a committee to comment on a large complex issue, and because that blogger has been highly critical of Mike in the past, he simply chose not to take the bait.  Considering that his question and your post also appear on the Observer page, I would be very cautious how or if I answered if I were him.  It's the same reason President Obama doesn't go on Fox News every time they have a question for him. This forum can get ugly quick (as you well know) and the proper forum is probably a school committee meeting.  And I'm pretty sure Archangel knows that.  I'm not saying the question doesn't have merit. It does, but based on past posts, it's a Trojan horse question looking for a way to trap, embarrass, or in some other way "catch" Mike.  That's why he asked for Mike's "opinion" instead of his opinion. We don't need that.  We don't need to start fighting between two websites like angry neighbors hurling insults over a fence.  We need people like Mike who volunteer their time and effort to make the Schools a better place.

It seems to me that making a stronger relationship between the School and the Boys and Girls Club, particularly under its new management, can only help give the youth of this town a place to learn, grow, and feel safe.  They will be able to become better students, better citizens, and better people.  They will learn to take pride in themselves and their community.  Why look for problems?  It may not have made us money, but from what I understand the B&G club is covering most if not all of the operating costs. Or is it better to give these kids no where to go and nothing to do, because maybe an "I" didn't get dotted or a "T" wasn't crossed.  What's the real point of the question?  There's plenty to complain about when it comes to how things are done in this town.  Let's not look for more.



Posted by: JohnQPublic | Apr 22, 2013 08:49

"Factual innacuracies." Good one Mike.



Posted by: Andrea Smith | Apr 22, 2013 16:09

Mike:

 

The questions I asked were very basic and not ill intended.  I asked them with the hope that the answers you provided would help people (who might lack sufficient knowledge)) to better understand the difference between a committee member providing information/opinion through a personal blog and a committee member being asked to respond to committee-specific questions posted elsewhere on the internet. Insufficient knowledge regarding the difference between the two can sometimes result in committee-specific questions being misdirected to an individual, rather than directed as they should be to the committee as a whole.

 

When a misdirected question goes unanswered, the lack of a response to the question unfortunately can sometimes be misinterpreted. Hence I asked the specific (as yet unanswered) question in my post above:

 

“If you feel responding to Archangel's question is not appropriate, to whom should the question be directed and what is the appropriate protocol for directing the question?”

 

Again my questions were not ill intended; quite the opposite…they were intended to generate a better understanding.

 

As you noted in your response to my questions, even with a disclaimer clearly stated, “we have no control over being misrepresented by others as speaking for the whole group even when we are clear that we are not.” You certainly have my empathy on that issue. I have no control over being misrepresented by others on this site as speaking for Robert Slager even though I state clearly and with great frequency that I am not speaking for Robert Slager. Nor do I have control over the fact that people often lash out at me about Robert Slager, when they should and could take their Slager-related issues directly to Robert Slager.

 

Regarding the following question which you posed to me:

 

"Do you consider me to be a liar?"

 

I have never inferred you to be a liar. I have never referred to you as a liar. That you would consider me capable of labeling you “a liar” is both heartbreaking and an insult.

 

In the future please direct any issues you have regarding Robert Slager to Robert Slager.



Posted by: Andrea Smith | Apr 22, 2013 17:03

 

Nativesun - Regarding the issue of the Boys and Girls Club relocating to the Hammond School. As I stated clearly last night on another website, I fully understand and appreciate that the Boys and Girls Club needs more space and the fact that the space at the Hammond School is a good fit for the needs of the Boys and Girls Club.

 

That said, like so many of Wareham's residents my husband and I are not employed in high paying jobs nor do we have an abundance of accumulated wealth. (In our case we are retired and on fixed incomes.) Because of these economic factors, and because we identify with others who live under similar economic circumstances, we are concerned about the Town Budget and how it may impact the taxes which we are required to pay. Knowing that the school department is struggling with its budget, that it is currently several hundred thousand dollars short of the money it has stated is needed for FY2014 and that for the foreseeable future the school department will continue to struggle with budget issues, I am concerned about the school department making a decision that could prevent it from seizing an opportunity to raise needed funds.

 

I am also very much concerned about a question you directed to me, a portion of which I quote:

 

"Or is it better to give these kids no where to go and nothing to do,”

 

By posing that question to me, are you suggesting that my intent is “to give these kids no where to go and nothing to do?”….I certainly hope not. I have never suggested nor inferred that I want the boys and girls who attend the Wareham Boys and Girls Club to have “no where to go and nothing to do.”

 

Nor would they have “no where to go and nothing to do” if the Boys and Girls Club did not have an option of relocating to the Hammond School.

 

As I said, from a personal economic standpoint, I have concerns about the town’s budget and the potential ramifications of the budget. Unfortunately expressing concern about the budget has resulted in some unfortuneate attacks in the past. I raised a question a few weeks ago in reference to budget concerns asking if FY2014 is the year The Spinney would become dependent upon the town for funding. I was labeled a “library hater” and “literacy hater” on this site for asking the question.

 

I hope that I am now not about to be labeled a “Boys and Girls Club hater” and “child hater” because I mentioned (on a different website) both my understanding of the Boys and Girls Clubs needs and  my concerns about the school budget and decisions directly affecting the availability of funds for the school budget.”

 



Posted by: Mike Flaherty | Apr 22, 2013 17:27

============================
Andrea Smith wrote:

Regarding the following question which you posed to me:

 

"Do you consider me to be a liar?"

 

I have never inferred you to be a liar. I have never referred to you as a liar. That you would consider me capable of labeling you “a liar” is both heartbreaking and an insult.
============================

 

Andrea, I was called the liar and somehow you felt insulted.  Sorry if I have a hard time figuring that one out.

 

I do thank you for the clarification.  I didn't think you considered me a liar, I just needed to hear it.  It gets to the point that was made in another thread that there is never-ending negativity (being polite) on the other site you frequent.  And your silence to it can be percieved as tacit approval whether that is fair or not. 

 

That said, I stand by what I have said in the past that you are the only thing going for that other site.  The only thing positive at times.  I wish you would do more of your own articles like you used to.  No politics, just interesting stories about OUR friends and neighbors.

 

But enough with this sterile blogging medium.  I would be delighted if we sat together for a bit during Town Meeting.  Is that OK with you?

 

- Mike



Posted by: Archangel | Apr 22, 2013 21:24

 

Nativesun,

 

Let’s cut to the chase. Your post implies that I was trying to trap or embarrass Mike Flaherty by asking his opinion on a matter that “he” and “his board” voted on. If there was nothing wrong with the vote or lease, Mr. Flaherty couldn’t possibly be trapped or embarrassed. You went so far as to state that the questions were a Trojan Horse.

 

Nativesun, all Flaherty needed to say in response to my questions is: “I don’t have those answers but I’ll look into it and address any issues that may be problematic with my Board.” That would have been a respectful and thoughtful response that I think any reasonable person would have been satisfied with. Instead, Flaherty went dark.

 

Because Flaherty went dark on this issue, I phoned the state agency that would be able to answer the question for me. Based on what they had to say, I can only surmise that maybe you have direct knowledge that the transaction is problematic or you at least have some doubt related to the transaction. I can’t think of any other reason that would explain why you felt that Mike Flaherty might be at risk of being embarrassed or feel that I was intentionally trying to trap him.

 

As far the issue being large and complex: How’s that?

 

To answer your statement that I called only one member of a committee out: Mr. Flaherty appears to be the only member of the school committee that posts his unsolicited opinion here. Frankly I’m offended that he expects to be able pontificate here.

 

As for the duplicate post here and on The Wareham Observer web site: Flaherty obviously reads both sites. Obviously, you do to.

 

Regarding the following comment, Nativesun:

 

<NativeSun>  “It may not have made us money, but from what I understand the B&G club is covering most if not all of the operating costs. Or is it better to give these kids no where to go and nothing to do, because maybe an "I" didn't get dotted or a "T" wasn't crossed.  “

 

<Archangel> How many problems, legal and otherwise, has this town had because an "I’" didn't get dotted or a "T" wasn't crossed. Problems don’t go away by pretending they don’t exist. Recognizing problems and correcting them before they get BIGGER is how the Town will eventually get out of its downward spiral.

 

Nativesun, If I wanted to embarrass Mr. Flaherty like he tried to do to Mrs. Smith, I would take the following exchange:

 

<Mike Flaherty> “Do you consider me to be a liar?”

 

<Andrea Smith> “I have never inferred you to be a liar. I have never referred to you as a liar. That you would consider me capable of labeling you “a liar” is both heartbreaking and an insult.”

<Mike Flaherty> “Andrea, I was called the liar and somehow you felt insulted.  Sorry if I have a hard time figuring that one out.”

 

Then, Nativesun, I would ask Mike Flaherty if he is saying that he has never lied?

 



Posted by: justin beiber | Apr 23, 2013 16:46

 

Chill out Archie.

Flaherty has never intentionally lied. He simply expresses his opinion.

I urge you to make an appointment with a therapist.

Getting a job might help, too.



Posted by: NativeSun | Apr 24, 2013 10:56

Let me make a few apologies and clear some things up.

First to Andrea,

I'm not labeling you a B&G club hater.  The majority of my post was directed at Archangel for being so persistent into getting Mike and only Mike to answer questions that should be addressed by the whole board.  My only concern with you is, the way you pose your question to Mike makes it seem as if you have no idea why Mike wouldn't rush to answer Archangels question.  Given their history here, and the fact that Mike has had issues with those who post on the Observer, including it's editor(I don't know when he was called a liar, but it seems to be a sticking point for Mike), it seems disingenuous to not see there's another reason besides whether its "appropriate" for him not to respond. I do give you credit for rephrasing the question in a more respectful, tactful manner by offering Mike the opportunity  to say "GO ask the School Committee." But the fact of the matter is while he may be a member of the School Committee, he isn't beholden to answer every anonymously asked question on every local chat board.  If the point is to MAKE him answer, ask at the meeting, don't hound him across 2 different websites. You have every right to ask, you just shouldn't expect an answer here.  If you felt I was pointing my arguments towards you I apologize.

As for Archangel, I"ll cut right to the chase. I don't feel like any answer Mike might have gave would satisfy you.  I don't feel that you were asking in earnest. I think you would have twisted and taken Mike's words out of context somewhere down the road to attack Mike.  I don't think you like him and I think the question you were really trying to ask was "Mike, I think you're a lying idiot, would you mind proving it for me." If he had said, "we checked it's legal and no we didn't open it for bids because the B&G club came to us and we saw it as a way to help the kids of this town.  No we aren't making money but it's for a good cause and doesn't cost us anything."  You would have found some way to make Mike and only Mike look bad.  If that didn't work you'd probably criticize him for talking about it on a forum or violating some kind of meeting law.  I say this because you could have found this info elsewhere but instead you challenge Mike, who has no reason to answer to you, and then try to make his silence look like an admission of guilt.  Mike has a private email he has posted before (and it isn't hard to get if you missed that post or 12 that he's given it) but you didn't want just the info you wanted a public forum to try to "take him down a notch" You admitted yourself you went and got the info you were looking for.

And as for posting on the other site because you know he reads it.  I won't speak for him, but I read it the same reason Liberals watch Fox News, or Conservatives watch... anything but Fox News? It's good to see what the opposition is saying.  It also helps to see if your name is being spelled correctly:) (inside joke) He has been given an open invitation to go on there and face the firing squad but for "some strange reason" hasn't.  But if you are asking a public forum so that the info is there for all to see, why make someone go back and forth between sites and threads to follow it?  We're you really thinking if he didn't answer here he might do it there?  Or were you hoping you could claim he "didn't have the integrity" to answer there.

Basically I think your question was loaded like nachos at Chillis.  And maybe Mike has heartburn



Posted by: LovingWareham | Apr 24, 2013 12:51

DING DING DING! NativeSun his the proverbial nail on the head!!



Posted by: justin beiber | Apr 24, 2013 15:18

 

I always enjoy reading Native Sun's take on matters.

He's the man!

 



Posted by: Archangel | Apr 24, 2013 19:00

 

 

As for Archangel, I"ll cut right to the chase. I don't feel ”I don’t feel” like any answer Mike might have gave would satisfy you.


I don't feel that you were asking in earnest. “I” don’t feel” I think you would have twisted and taken Mike's words out of context somewhere down the road to attack Mike. “I think”


I don't think you like him and I think “I think” the question you were really trying to ask was "Mike, I think “I think” you're a lying idiot, would you mind proving it for me."


<Archangel> If I wanted to state that Mike was a liar and an idiot, I would state exactly that, Nativesun. I’m not bashfull but, I do want to thank you for cutting to the chase. As you know, thinking requires some level of objectivity. That means not being influenced by personal feelings, interpretations, or prejudice. The second sentence in your reply to me is very clear in that your comments are influenced by your personal feelings for Mike Flaherty and some prejudicial feeling toward me. I don’t even know him. But, apparently you do and appear to have some sort of friendship with him. 

 

<Nativesun> If he had said, "we checked it's legal and no we didn't open it for bids because the B&G club came to us and we saw it as a way to help the kids of this town.  No we aren't making money but it's for a good cause and doesn't cost us anything."  You would have found some way to make Mike and only Mike look bad.

 

<Archangel> That statement makes no sense whatsoever. Yes, Mike’s opinion was part of the overall vote. But, he did not make the decision aloneThe entire Committee is responsible. That’s not my opinion, it is a conclusion that I base on facts and free from personal feelings (objectively).

 

<Nativesun> If that didn't work you'd probably criticize him for talking about it on a forum or violating some kind of meeting law.

 

<Archangel> If that was true, I could have simply made such a charge under the school bus discussion.


<Nativesun>  I say this because you could have found this info elsewhere but instead you challenge Mike, who has no reason to answer to you, and then try to make his silence look like an admission of guilt.


<Archangel> That statement is exactly what’s wrong with this Town, Nativesun. I asked two simple questions, of a public official no less, and you interpret it as me challenging Mike to some kind of duel. Whether Mike chooses to respond to the question is his decision. How he looks for choosing to pontificate on certain matters while refusing to answer questions about others is under his complete control.


<Nativesun> Mike has a private email he has posted before (and it isn't hard to get if you missed that post or 12 that he's given it) but you didn't want just the info you wanted a public forum to try to "take him down a notch"


<Archangel> That’s a funny way of looking at it, Nativesun. Flaherty is asked questions on his Facebook club all the time. Asking the question here is no less public than that. And, I don’t see you complaining about that..

 

<Nativesun> You admitted yourself you went and got the info you were looking for.

 

<Archangel> That’s correct, I found it after spending a considerable time trying to do so. And no thanks to Mike Flaherty.

 

<Nativesun> And as for posting on the other site because you know he reads it.  I won't speak for him, but I read it the same reason Liberals watch Fox News, or Conservatives watch... anything but Fox News? It's good to see what the opposition is saying.

 

<Archangel> Opposition? I see. According to you, anyone that posts on the Wareham Observer site is opposition! Ok. But, what would this world be like if it was forbidden to have opposing viewpoints. Hmmm… We might well be living under communist rule or worse. That’s a very revealing sentiment, Nativesun.

 

<Nativesun> He has been given an open invitation to go on there and face the firing squad but for "some strange reason" hasn't.  But if you are asking a public forum so that the info is there for all to see, why make someone go back and forth between sites and threads to follow it?

 

<Archangel> Well, I suppose I could be like Flaherty and choose to respond to comments made on one web site on a different web site. Flaherty does that frequently. So maybe you should ask Flaherty the same question, Nativesun. Notwithstanding that; however, I’m not afraid to debate the issues like some people appear to be which is why I choose to post on both sites.

 

<Nativesun> We're you really thinking if he didn't answer here he might do it there?

 

<Archangel> Consider how frequently Flaherty responds to statements made on the other site and draw your own conclusion, Nativesun.

 

<Nativesun> Or were you hoping you could claim he "didn't have the integrity" to answer there.

 

<Archangel> He didn’t answer there and he didn’t answer here. There’s no difference. He simply went dark which is what I have a problem with.

As you probably know, Nativesun, The Board of Selectmen is now questioning the legality of the lease. If there is an issue, I will be upset with Flaherty. I wouldn’t feel he was more responsible for a collective decision of the Committee but I will tell you that I hold him to a higher standard than the others and I do believe he tries to understand the issues and asks questions. Just because I have been critical of a position or two he’s taken doesn’t mean I don’t like him. He’s an elected official to me, that’s all. He’s asked some very good questions and I’ll give him credit for that.


Did you ever consider that maybe I posted those questions because I “thought”, of all the members of the school committee that might see them, Flaherty would be the one that might actually think about it and raise the issue with his colleagues.

 

The only thing that could describe how I’m “feeling” right now is disappointment. I’m not disappointed because of the way Flaherty voted on the issue, I’m disappointed that we have reached a point in this town where questions can’t be posed to an elected official without them somehow being construed as an attack.

 



Posted by: Archangel | Apr 24, 2013 19:06

Posted by: justin Beiber | Apr 23, 2013 16:46

 

Chill out Archie.

Flaherty has never intentionally lied. He simply expresses his opinion.

I urge you to make an appointment with a therapist.

Getting a job might help, too.

 

>Archangel< I might just do that, Justin. Would you mind giving me the number to yours? I want to make certain not to call the quack that you must have. LOL



Posted by: NativeSun | Apr 25, 2013 03:23

Archangel,

There was one part of your post that really stuck with me.

"Opposition? I see. According to you, anyone that posts on the Wareham Observer site is opposition! Ok. But, what would this world be like if it was forbidden to have opposing viewpoints. Hmmm… We might well be living under communist rule or worse. That’s a very revealing sentiment, Nativesun."

Yes.  I think that the people who read and follow the Observer are the "opposition."  Perhaps that is the wrong word. Maybe "vocal minority" and I use the term minority only because most of the results of the last few elections have not been seen as favorable to the Observer.  I will say that since I started reading these forums about 3 or 4 years ago, all I heard from the Observer was about the "Power Elite" "Take Back Wareham", "Move Wareham Forward" etc.  They were always painted, by the Observer as being one side of the argument.  The readers of the Observer were always the other side of that argument.  And while no official list of names or screen names was ever given, it always seemed like an "us vs them" mentality.  Everything "bad" that happened was to blamed on them.  To this day, I read about things the "Take Back Wareham crew" does to supposedly ruin this town.  And I recall seeing Mike lumped in with them on more than one occasion.  So that puts him on one side and you on the other.  But let me clear up something, I am NOT against opposition.  There will always be more than one side to an issue.  On a previous thread I applauded Andrea Smith for the way she presents herself on this forum.  I said that while I do not agree with her, she as an actual resident, has every right to say what she likes.  And furthermore I like the way she says it.  I have never seen her stoop to name calling or mud slinging.  I also want to say that while I have seen you have some heated back and forths on here, I can't recall you doing it either.  I think you take a different tactic.  You ask questions in a specific way looking for a specific answer. (I already see in my crystal ball you writing, "Yes the TRUTH!!"  No one is buying that)   Then you badger your target by repeating it and reposting it everywhere.  If they don't answer, you insinuate that it's because of some wrongdoing or incompetency. Arrogantly assuming your questions are so important they MUST be answered.  Why couldn't you ask those questions under the original story about the deal.  "Boy's and Girl's Club to lease portion of Hammond Elementary"originally posted April 10th.

I recall the thread "A slap in the face of voters" where you took issue with Mike for wanting prop 2 1/2 on the ballot, and when it failed, he still had to find a way to fix the roof so you took him to task for going against the voters will.  While I don't want to reopen THAT can of worms, I think it was clear that voters weren't voting against the roof repair but on the exact means of funding it.  When prop 2 1/2 failed he went on to the next possible means of funding it.  As a SC member that was his job.  Find a way to fix the roof.  You tried (unsuccessfuly) to make him and only him seem like a hypocrite who was trying to subvert the will of the voters. The general consensus was you were way off base and a thinly veiled attempt to impugn Mike's character.  So I don't think your questions are casual little inquires.  Many (not all) on that post agreed that you were off base and maybe a little too fanatical in your questioning.(I believe someone actual said, "you doth protest too much"" In that same thread many accused you of being Robert Slager.  I don't believe that to be true, but it was a regurgitation ( I know you'll be all over me for my word choice, but it's late and I don't have my thesaurus handy) of something Robert Slager had been saying on the Observer.  Now if we are to be realistic, we can agree that for better or worse, love him or hate him, Mr. Slager has been a source of much division in our town. Many inflammatory things have been said both by and about him.  I'm not interested in figuring out who fired the first shot, but it has been a war ever since.  He has said unkind things about Mike (and vice versa) and most of the regular posters on WW.  He regularly claims that some of these screen names are duplicates or that he knows the identities of one name or another.  He regularly crticizes Jamie and Anne about the stories they do or do not cover and how they are covered.  His paper was in direct competition with WW and Mike has a column witht them.  As a result, if you are aligned with him, it's reasonable to say you are aligned against Mike.  The simple fact is he does not have a responsibility to answer every question posed by an anonymous blogger especially one who clearly has an agenda against him.  Does anyone here who is not a regular poster on the Observer (and would likely have a natural bias) think I am off target or being unfair?  If my characterization of Archangel as being adversarial to Mike is unfounded please let me know



Posted by: jwright | Apr 25, 2013 11:50

I know that the bus costs have been studied, however what we do not know is what the parameters of the study where.  The biggest cost for any municipal department is the personnel costs over the life of the employee, ie pension, health care etc.  My guess would be that the bus system employee legacy costs were segregated out and included in the overall school retirement system.  If not, than the other 95% of towns are really uninformed and doing it all wrong.



Posted by: Recycler | Apr 25, 2013 14:09

Nativesun, that was very well said.



Posted by: Cogito | Apr 25, 2013 14:17

I also agree with NativeSun.  The only thing going on is an attempt to bait Mike Flaherty into a shouting contest.

 

It has been pointed out by many before that Archangel is really Robert Slager and that he comes here just to cause trouble.

 

If "Archangel" sincerely wanted answers, then why not ask Rhonda Veugen?  She voted to support the Boys and Girls Club like Flaherty, but Rhonda is the Chair of the School Committee.  She is also a registered member of the Halifax Conspiracy Club's website.

 

What better person to ask?  So why not ask her?

 

Why?  Because that would be a sincere request for information, and that's not what MWF cares about.  It's all about the distration when the facts don't support them.

 

MWF needs a distraction now because Flaherty cleaned Slager's clock (or was it his Batman watch) when it came to presenting the facts of the school bus issue.  "Archangel", if you are not Slager then even you have to agree with that.

 

Just like the State did with the Slager/MWF witch hunt against library supporters.  All of them were good people that he tried to destroy.  Thank God for an objective state agency that saw through it all.

 

If we have learned nothing else, for our town to succeed and make it through this we need to stop the broad brush attacks against our elected Wareham decision makers and tune out the defunct out of town trouble maker.

 

That's what WE voted them in for.  To do the job. In turn they appointed other leaders onto boards and committees on our behalf.  Let's let them lead.  If we don't then it will be our own fault if Wareham fails.  It will be our own fault if no one else decides it is worth stepping up to lead in the future.  Why should they if going into it all they can expect is grief, and sometimes from the same voters who put them there?

 

I support the work of all the people on the Transportation Committee - including MWF members.  Thank you for your time in working on this important issue.  I too didn't expect the conclusion of your work but I accept and respect it.  You did your job and that is all that anyone can ask.

 



Posted by: ChristianFernandes | Apr 25, 2013 14:28

It really isn't an issue of whether they do it right and we do it wrong or vice versa. It is an issue on what is good for Wareham, whether our budget can afford the change or whether we are actually doing the best for Wareham keeping it in house.

A simple Wikipedia search on the word busses yields this paragraph among the page:

 

In the United States, school buses provide an estimated 10 billion student trips every year. Every school day, over 480,000 school buses transport 26 million children to and from schools and school-related activities; over half of the country's student population is transported by school bus.[3] School buses are leased or purchased by school districts, while other school districts use school bus contractors to transport students. In the United States, approximately 40% of school districts use contractors to handle student transportation; in Canada, they are used almost universally.


By handling it in house no one is saying that entirely Canada and other countries or 40% of the US are wrong. Nor is the 60% of the US that does it in house right.

 

Whether it is done in house or not, makes no difference at this point. 100,000 - 400,000 difference up or down is huge in Wareham yes, but we're still talking about approximately 2 - 2.3mil to run either in house or not. When you configure all of the costs on both sides.

 

Just going Privatized may not solve all our issues either. It may even create new ones. Anyone that simply believes Privatization is an end all save all should read the following website. It covers Privatization in general busing, cafeteria and janitorial the pros and the cons and they show examples of many states and why they privatized and why after having gone private some states, cities, towns decided to go back to having it in house.

 

www.inthepublicinterest.org

 

I personally paid close attention to the Privatization Myth part of the website. But I suggest your read the whole of the website.

 

1. Myth 1 - Privatization Saves Money: The truth is - privatization often raises costs for both public and governments.

 

2. Myth 2 - Private Sector does a better job than Public Sector: The truth is - many examples show a decline in service quality under private contractors.

 

3. Myth 3 - Privatization allows governmental entities to better anticipate and control budgetary costs - The Truth is - cost estimates are extremely unreliable and privatization can cause unforeseen budgetary costs.

 

4. Myth 4 - Privatization allows government entities more administrative flexibility. The Truth is - Privatization requires substantial administrative resources for monitoring and oversight.

 

5. Myth 5 - The public maintains control over the privatized asset and the government retains the ability to ultimately make public policy changes. The truth is - Privatization can bind the policy makers hands for years, allowing the privatized company significant control of the privatized asset or service and the ability to dictate important policy decisions.

 

6. Myth 6 - If anything goes wrong the public government can easily fire the private contract or adjust the contract. The truth is - reversing privatization involves huge costs and interruptions in service.

 

7. Myth 7 - Privatization companies are chosen for contracts based on the merits, not based on political or financial connections. The truth is - government for profit companies opens doors to unscrupulous behavior by politicians and businesses.

 

The above site shows many examples to their myths so don't just take the simple examples I copied from the site above as answers. But don't simply think because people keep saying 95, 96, and 98% of Massachusetts' towns do it a different way it is going to fit for Wareham's current economic climate.

 

I'm not even saying you should decide either way. I'm suggesting you should get yourself informed and not settle for either sides simplistic answer.



Posted by: Zephyr | Apr 25, 2013 15:37

I am passing this on only as "Food for Thought" because it brings up some important issues that we should think about before we do anything.

Why Outsource Your Transportation Service

Conversion and Outsourcing

Outsourcing has proved successful in almost all cases where schools have partnered with private companies to provide transportation. While maintaining control over transportation through contract stipulations, school administrators who convert to contracted transportation are able to redirect both energies and resources to their core function, education.

The reasons that districts consider contracted transportation vary, but often fall into one of the following categories:
  • The district fleet is aged, and funding is not available to upgrade it;
  • New equipment regulations and safety or environmental innovations make new buses desirable, but the district replacement schedule does not allow for rapid turnover of the fleet;
  • Transportation cost increases have outpaced funding;
  • Economies of scale are not always available and costs are out of line with similar districts;
  • System inefficiencies have resulted in overextended resources and scheduling difficulties;
  • Federal, state, or administrative changes and additional responsibilities (redistricting, addition of interdistrict magnet schools, parental choice prerogatives) challenge the system;
  • Administrative headaches (dealing with parents, employee absenteeism, drug and alcohol testing, mandated paperwork) require an inordinate share of administrators’ time and attention.
  • Outsourcing can solve any and all of these problems. Private contractors whose primary business is pupil transportation have a single focus: to provide school bus service in the most efficient and cost-effective way possible while maintaining the highest levels of safety and reliable service. Just as school districts are experts at providing education, private school bus companies are experts at providing transportation.
Through contracting, a school district can upgrade or completely replace an aging fleet with new buses equipped as the district chooses (within the boundaries of state law) without making a capital investment. It can control transportation costs and accurately predict those costs through the life of the contract. It can protect current employees’ wages and benefits through contract specifications or reduce inflated employee costs by allowing the contractor to use market standards.

Contractors have expertise in planning, routing and scheduling that often results in more efficient service and lower costs. In many cases, they can take advantage of economies of scale, coordinated services, shared facilities, and dedicated personnel to improve both efficiency and the bottom line.

Cost Comparisons

When a district compares its current costs to the cost of contracted transportation, it is important to recognize all expenses. In addition to the obvious direct costs of driver and mechanic wages and benefits, vehicles and parts, maintenance, fuel, insurance, garage and parking facilities, there are indirect or hidden costs that also must be considered. Many times, expenses that are related to transportation are included in another department’s budget or in general administration, or are simply overlooked. These might include payroll taxes, clerical and support services, utilities, legal fees, fuel tank testing and repair, workers’ compensation premiums and losses, depreciation, office supplies, hazardous materials disposal. In addition, outsourcing frees up capital for investment in other areas, and may provide revenue from leasing land or buildings for bus parking, maintenance, and terminal offices.

NEW! (Added April 2012) Find out how much outsourcing transportation will really save you with these tools below

COST ANALYSIS CALCULATOR

COST ANALYSIS WORKSHEET


Avoiding Pitfalls

A change as significant as outsourcing transportation does not always occur easily. It requires advance preparation, diplomacy, and sensitivity to those who will be affected by the change—drivers and other personnel, parents, members of the board of education, and taxpayers. Pupil transportation contractors are aware of the concerns of the stakeholders and know that a full understanding of the process is imperative.

Boards of education are most concerned with maintaining control over transportation. This is easily accomplished through contract specifications, including detailed requirements for equipment, personnel and service, and enforcement provisions. Furthermore, a district that is dissatisfied with a contractor can change service providers. This competition aspect encourages high levels of service and efficiency among contractors.

Driver resistance is probably the most difficult barrier to overcome. Drivers mistakenly worry that outsourcing means their jobs are at risk. In fact, contractors view the district’s drivers as their most valuable asset. Drivers’ experience and goodwill in the community are invaluable to the contractor, who will hope to capitalize on those assets. A district can assure that drivers maintain current levels of wages and benefits by writing those specifications into the contract. In addition, drivers often benefit from the opportunity to pick up extra work driving charters or other coordinated transportation for the contractor, and in some states from the ability to collect unemployment compensation during school vacation periods. In many cases, drivers benefit in more subtle ways as well, through more professional training and more direct influence on operations.

Once the parties fully understand the advantages of outsourcing, they rarely reverse course. It is highly unusual for a district that has contracted transportation to take that function back in house.

Conclusion

Outsourcing is a successful strategy for solving a variety of transportation problems. Partnering with a private school bus company whose expertise is pupil transportation allows the school administration to concentrate on their primary function, educating students, and at the same time provides service which is safe, efficient, and cost-effective.
***This information did come from a bus company that would like you to outsource.  But I was more interested in the reasons why we should outsource. Do any of their reasons fit Wareham?



Posted by: Brian Litchfield | Apr 25, 2013 15:45

While I understand there has been a comparison on this issue, there have been concerns that not all operating costs have been taken into account. Yellowbuses.org highlights many of the reason towns turn to outsourcing in this particular area. I have added a link to a cost analysis worksheet they provide that takes into account all aspects of a town run bus program. If it would be possible, to clear up any concerns regarding this matter, have someone fill out all the fields in this worksheet and offer it to the residents. I think if this could be done successfully it would remove any apprehensions one might have as to whether or not everything is being accounted for. It would then in fact be the "apples to apples" comparison the residents are looking for.

http://www.yellowbuses.org/UserFiles/file/COST%20ANALYSIS%20UPDATED%204%2011%2012.pdf

I also urge readers to view the reasons set forth on this website as a way to be truly "informed"



Posted by: Brian Litchfield | Apr 25, 2013 16:13

Zephyr, That was too coincidental. Eight minutes apart? I cheated and offered the link while you supplied the information verbatim.



Posted by: Zephyr | Apr 25, 2013 16:39

TNB1434, Only goes to show that great minds work alike.  LOL



Posted by: Archangel | Apr 25, 2013 19:15

NativeSun, out of respect to the other posters that are having a discussion on the buses, I posted my response to your diatribe under the thread "A request for Mike Flaherty's Opinion.



Posted by: Archangel | Apr 25, 2013 20:25

I'm curious about something. I don't have Powerpoint on my computer so I can't view the slides. Does anyone know if the bids were for more than 1 year or just a single year?



Posted by: Brian Litchfield | Apr 25, 2013 20:37

Excellent point. It does not specify on the PowerPoint. I assume your thought process would be that a longer contract would allow the bus companies to offer a better price for multiple years vs. one year? I will see what I can find.



Posted by: ChristianFernandes | Apr 25, 2013 21:01

Since you don't have powerpoint, you can watch the video here. Where Mr. Tatro presented the bid to the school committee.

January 30th, 2013.

http://youtu.be/XltUKgE88GY

the transportation section of the video starts at 13:41 of the video and ends at 57:00.

 



Posted by: Archangel | Apr 25, 2013 21:04

You are correct, TNB. Thank you.

Thank you for the link, Christian.



Posted by: ChristianFernandes | Apr 25, 2013 21:26

Just so everyone knows. But more so, for Archie and Brian if you didn't already know. There are two ways you can access WCTV's archive of videos. Most videos, unless we are substantially swamped with work, are up by Friday of each week. Currently we cover the municipal meetings of the selectmen, school committee and finance committee meetings. Town Meeting is also included in that total as are many other subcommitties(sp?) of those major committies.

 

If you subscribe to the "warehamtv" youtube site you can get email or phone notification based on your subscription with youtube everytime we put a new video online. Or if you don't like the design of youtube you may go to our website: www.warehamtv.org, click the drop down under "watch", click on 'video on demand' and get a list of the type of video you want to watch. All the videos are listed by date, which also coincide with the dates on the agendas that you can often find on the town website for many of those committies.

 

Doing this will help you keep up to date what is exactly being said and where it is being said.

 

and your welcome.



Posted by: PMB | Apr 26, 2013 10:22

To make a comparison of a municipal service that was privatized, we need look no further than our own town of Wareham.  Prior to the passage of Prop 2 1/2, the town provided municipal trash pick up.  We owned the trucks, hired the crew, and owned dumpsters that serviced all the schools and municipal buildings in town.  With 2 1/2 came a sudden cash shortfall for all towns in Mass..  In our rush to balance the budget, we decided to stop providing trash service.  We sold the trucks and the dumpsters, and laid off the crew.  Residents were forced to hire private contractors.  At first the town contracted with a private hauler to keep the cost low, but over time even this "reduced" rate increased.  Other companies came in and offered low cost sign up deals as well, but again, over time, these prices skyrocketed.  Today, it costs, on average, over $350.00 per year for private trash pick up, per household.  If the town added a $350.00 bill to everyone's tax bill we could have a fleet of Mercedes trash trucks maned by collectors in tuxedos and white gloves coming into your house to empty your trash barrels every other day.  The point is, we took a municipal service that cost a reasonable amount, and privatized it.  The net result was a big increase in cost to each homeowner.  Also, instead of the town picking up the trash at the schools and municipal buildings, we pay private contractors, adding more to the overall cost for the taxpayers.  What does all this have to do with buses you might ask?  It's the same story.  Sell off the buses now for a quick fix...but in a very short time we will be paying a much higher price for the same service.  Private companies are in business to make money, and they don't make money by providing services "on the cheap" to towns like Wareham, whether its trash pick up or bus service.



Posted by: justin beiber | Apr 26, 2013 12:43

 

For $30, you can get a dump sticker for a year. Haul away your own stuff whenever you're so inclined.

Forget about the garbage truck's schedule, which varies on holiday weekends.

That's what I call privatization!    



Posted by: Zephyr | Apr 26, 2013 13:20

Sorry, but it doesn't cost me over $350 a year.  It only cost me $15 a year for the sticker.  ♫ ♪ ♫



Posted by: PMB | Apr 26, 2013 14:36

Biebs...I agree to certain extent.  I buy the sticker myself and go to the transfer station.  I have the time and a pick-up truck, but many people do not.  Many people, especially the elderly, do not want the hassle of putting the trash in their car and taking it to the transfer station, particularly in the winter.   Most people rely on a private hauler and pay the going rate.  The problem is, that some people do neither.....they discard their trash in the woods and on the side of the road to avoid any fees.  The point is it costs an individual much more to pay for this service alone, than it did when we combined our resources and everyone was serviced....that's the problem with privatization...it ends up costing us more in the end.

And Zephyr, how do you get a sticker for only $15 a year?  I paid $30 for at least the last two years, maybe three years. Let us all in on the deal.



Posted by: Zephyr | Apr 26, 2013 14:59

Senior rate.



Posted by: justin beiber | Apr 26, 2013 16:06

 

Are you saying some seniors discard their trash on the side of the road?

Glad to know Zephyr isn't one of them. 



Posted by: totellthetruth | Apr 26, 2013 16:23

I know this is a school bus thread, but I couldn't resist the trash talk. $15 yr. Senior Rate, yup, thats correct. I go every week, wouldn't miss it for the world. The Marion Transfer Station is where you dump your trash, pick up your "goodies"at the Swap Shop, and get the BEST compost in the State. All for free. Did I mention, between Marion and Rochester you can recycle everything that the Recycling Center in E. Wareham takes,except tires.

 The BEST part of the whole deal is: you can find out the REAL truth about Wareham Politics, and everything else Wareham.  Just dump your trash and keep your ears open.



Posted by: Archangel | Apr 26, 2013 17:18

 

 

Thanks again, Christian.

 

I’m part of the way through the meeting and Mr. Tatro’s presentation. He said that the Transportation Revolving Account runs at about a $225,000 surplus each year. It was stated that the surplus is profit generated partly from charging teachers and the athletic department for field trips.

 

As I understand it, the money that the teachers and the athletic department use to pay for the trips comes from the net school spending account (The account that is considered the Town’s contribution to paying for education). So, that means that the Transportation Department has been operated more or less as a for-profit business. As a result, I’m asking myself a few of questions:

 

1. Obviously the $225 thousand per year surplus was not used to buy buses so what was it used for and how will what it was paying for be paid for now?

2. What did the town pay for athletic and field trips over the past five years (What was the rate charged?)

3. What was the total profit of the Transportation Revolving Account over the past five years?

4. How much is budgeted for field trips and athletics in the budget we will be voting on?

5. Will the schools now charge the teachers and athletic department, and by extension, the Town even higher rates for those trips?

6. Is part of the increase in net school spending a result of using the surplus in the Transportation Revolving Account to buy buses instead of what it was paying for before?

7. Assuming transportation remains in-house, should the Schools continue to charge the Teachers and Athletic Department, and by extension, the Town, a rate that generates a profit if the Town approves a budget that includes the purchase of buses?

 

Again, I have not watched the entire meeting yet.

 

Any thoughts?

 

 



Posted by: ChristianFernandes | Apr 27, 2013 01:01

I do know from attending most of the school committee meetings in the past 4yrs, that the transportation revolving account isn't as simple as only money from athletics or only money from field trips or the cranberry festival as others have said. It also contains the funds Wareham recieves from out of district busing, such as when a child outside of Wareham comes into Wareham's district for school. It also includes, this year, the federal goverment legislation for homeless transportation supplied "McKinney Vento"(sp) to the town to make up for the lost funds for the mandatory busing of homless in and out of district if they live in Wareham and are going to school elsewhere or live elsewhere and are going to school in Wareham. Town Meeting voted that money to go into the school transporation department as it was created by the department when they bussed the homeless children in the first place. There are also mandated monies that come into the fund for Special ED busing.  But there is also a cost that goes out of the fund for the students we send out of district as well such as for the "school that deals with Biology" (sorry the name escapes me right now) and other Special ED busing and other districtized private schools and regional schools.

 

The link below is the .pdf for the transportation non & net school spending for FY'11-13. The typeface is a bit small, I suggest you print it out or cut and paste it into a document program.

http://www.warehamps.org/district/departments/transportation/documents/TransportationFY13Budget.pdf

this next link is the fuel cost and yearly milelage for the entire WPS fleet from 1998 - 12/31/12, the blocked yellow shows when McKinney Vento became federal legislation.

http://www.warehamps.org/district/departments/transportation/documents/TransportationYrlyMileage&Fuel.pdf

Also, I can't answer all your athletic questions. the following is a link to the video of the end of the year report by the athletic director last year. June 6th, 2012. It should contain some of the answers your looking for, but maybe not the break down you want. But it may give you new questions to ask specific school committee members or the school committee as a whole during citizen participation at one of their meetings? Athletic reports have to be done in June after the kids have left school, because there are still gate reciepts and end of year totals being collected by the spring sports.

http://youtu.be/O8RxDXYNVnQ - 2:23:00'ish (Athletics End of Year Report 2012)

http://youtu.be/EKjjVYv9FFg - 2:48:37 (Athletics End of Year Report 2011)

I hope those links help you answer some of your questions. The next link will take you directly to the WPS Transportation Page on the school Website for any other .pdf's in transportation you want to look at.

http://www.warehamps.org/district/departments/transportation/information.html



Posted by: Mike Flaherty | Apr 27, 2013 08:14

Christian, thanks for pointing folks to all of that other information.  Although if memory serves, the M-Vento money was put into the non-net account and not the revolver.  If I had some more time I could look for sure in my materials on when we approved which account that would go.

 

Archangel, regarding question #1, the answer is in my original article...

 

===============================
I wrote:

 

Unfortunately, there is still one problem. Notice, I said that we “could” provide these services for about $1.6 million. Sadly, the reality is that despite the major cost savings the Town has seen from keeping busing in-house, the transportation budget remains chronically underfunded year after year. Those deficits have been made up by, among other things, forgoing the purchase of newer and safer buses. The result is a bus fleet with an average age of 8 years with some of those vehicles being as old as 1998 models (14 years old). Compare that to the goal of an average age of 5 years if we just funded it properly - all the while saving hundreds of thousands of dollars yearly from not privatizing.
===============================

 

In other words, we take any surplus in the revolver and instead of applying it to capital (new buses), we put it into operating costs of running the fleet.  Under the apples-to-apples bid proposal, that revolver surplus would go toward buying new buses.


Regarding your other questions, if they haven't been covered here already, then I recommend that you or anyone else contact the Transportation Director and ask him.  He would be the best source of information on this and he has always made it known that anyone can call him any time.

 

His information is:

Jeff Tatro
508-291-3574
jtatro@wareham.k12.ma.us



Posted by: Archangel | Apr 27, 2013 11:53

I plan on looking at all of the information you posted, Christian. Thank you for making it available. I don’t know that I could have found it all without spending considerable time looking. Thanks for saving me from that.

 

Mr. Flaherty, I don’t usually like to assume things. But, I’ll go out on a limb here and assume you saw the exchange between NativeSun and me.

 

Let me be very clear: I do not harbor any ill-will toward you whatsoever. I may not agree with you at times. But, there are times that I do agree with you somewhere in the neighborhood 0f 50% - 100%. I’ll use your offering your honest assessment of the performance of the Superintendent as an example that immediately comes to mind. I don’t recall if I posted anything about that or not. But, if I didn’t perhaps I should have. In the future, I’ll try to post comments about the positive things that I see you do.

 

I will tell you; however, that you should expect questions on a number of different issues when you post on a public web site. That is one of the great things about living in a world with so many ways to communicate. People have choices. They can pick-up a phone without being tied to a cord, they can email, text, blog, or instant message. When we can’t attend meetings because of other commitments, we can become better informed through the internet, like the links Christian provided. What I’m trying to get at is, for those of us that can’t necessarily get to meetings, all of these options are available to us to use and I don’t see any particular method as being preferable over another. Do you understand what I mean?

 

I do thank you for trying to answer the question I asked above. I’m still not certain I understand how we could possibly be spending $6,000 per year per bus out the revolving account for bus operations if fuel, maintenance and personnel costs are already included in the non-net amount the school department receives. (I’ll do some more research)

 

I also looked at some of the statistics regarding the inspection failures. I ‘m confused by the logic of needing a fleet with an average age of five years when buses that are five years old or less have a higher rate of inspection failures than buses that are much older. (I’ll do some research on that too.)

 

Mike, can you save us all a little bit of work and tell us if the bids received from the vendors were for one year, five years or somewhere in between? I know you gave us Mr. Tatro’s contact info but it would be appreciated.

 

Thanks.



Posted by: Brian Litchfield | Apr 27, 2013 20:57

Archangel, the proposal are for a three year contract.



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