Scotia-Glenville, Niskayuna, and BOCES create new shared transportation service

The Board of Education last night approved a plan to move four Scotia-Glenville transportation employees into a new service being created by S-G, Niskayuna schools and the Capital Region BOCES that will create lower long-term costs for both districts.

Effective Oct. 1, these employees will become BOCES employees:  Lori Stern, transportation supervisor; Pamela Gary, transportation assistant; Bryan Rose, senior automotive mechanic; and Henry Brown, automotive mechanic. Stern will become the supervisor of the newly created BOCES service.

The service will merge both school districts’ bus maintenance and transportation offices into a single BOCES-run service based at the Niskayuna transportation garage in Niskayuna. This will increase the capacity and efficiency of bus repair operations and achieve long-term cost savings for each district – without diminishing services to students and families.

Approximately 15 positions across both districts would move to BOCES as part of the new service. Bus drivers are not part of this transition.

A key advantage of such a service – and why this approach is far different than “outsourcing” – is that it protects the interests of affected transportation staff. No one will lose a job: Employees will be working for an established public education entity, and the districts and BOCES have been working together to maintain current employee salaries and equivalent benefit levels.

The Niskayuna Board of Education and the Capital Region BOCES had approved the new service over the past two weeks.

The change should not be apparent to families. Students will still be served by buses from their respective districts. All involved are focused on a thoughtful implementation of the new service and a high level of customer service.

District and BOCES officials held meetings with affected employees to share information about the transition and answer questions.

The new shared service is actually an extension of an existing partnership between the two districts. The mechanics have been working side-by-side in the maintenance area of the Niskayuna bus garage since last summer, when Scotia-Glenville began leasing space there. This will continue to be their work location.

An advantage of formally combining mechanics into a single entity is that it will strengthen mechanical services for both districts by bringing together a larger group of skilled professionals who can service buses for both districts.

“We are pleased that this joint venture with Niskayuna schools and the Capital Region BOCES will save money while ensuring that nobody loses their job,” said Scotia-Glenville Superintendent Susan Swartz. “We considered this decision carefully, and I am confident that this new service will provide a good working environment for our employees and benefit our district and our efforts to provide quality transportation services.”

“This shared service is a logical next step in shared transportation  services for our district – and our overall efforts to maximize efficiencies and revenue to benefit students and be responsive to taxpayers,” Niskayuna Superintendent Cosimo Tangorra, Jr. said. “Our transportation staff is a vital and valued part of our organization. This approach allows us to protect the interests of our employees and provides fiscal sustainability without impacting services for students and families.”

Compared with operating independently, the net combined savings in the first year alone are projected at approximately $100,000, including increased state BOCES aid. However, the real benefit of the new service is long-term sustainability – as additional efficiencies and economies of scale are realized over time in addition to the enhanced state aid.

The school districts will continue to keep their communities updated as this shared service moves forward.