Lehigh Valley

Wilson Area School District bus drivers worried for jobs

22 bus drivers fear they could be out of a job

WILSON BOROUGH, Pa. - The song says the wheels on the bus go round and round.

But the wheels could come off entirely for drivers in the Wilson Area School District if the school board decides to outsource bus services.

Naturally, the current drivers aren't happy.

"We have bus drivers who have graduated from Wilson, live in Wilson, pay taxes in Wilson and they've worked here their whole career," said John Williams, president of the Wilson Area Support Professionals Association. "They don't want to give it up.”

If a new contractor is hired, that company would get a five-year contract, the school district would sell its bus fleet, and 22 drivers would be out of a job, some who've been behind the wheel for more than 20 years.

"I don't want to lose my job," said Helena Frelak, a driver for 18 years. "I live here in the township. I don't want to have to go away and find another job."

Board members heard three options for a transportation plan: They can keep existing drivers and upgrade the buses which would costs $8.5 million, they could create a combination of existing drivers and contractors which would cost around $8.0 million, or they could hire an outside company which would cost $6.1 million.

"I'm sure the bottom line is all cost driven, said Williams. "We have an aging fleet of buses, that's always been a problem."

Drivers presented the board with petitions from community members asking them to keep services in house and look at how students will be affected.

"We know the whole community, we know all the children, parents know all of us," said Frelak. "If you bring some strange bus company in here, it's not going to work."

This is just the first look at the proposal by school board members who are they're not making a comment at this time.

They say they want to study the proposal and wait for the preliminary budget for the 2018 - '19 school year.

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