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Southmoreland district OKs 5-year contract with Groomes Transit

| Saturday, Nov. 17, 2012, 1:22 a.m.

Student transportation services at the Southmoreland School District will be handled again by the company that has performed that task for many years.

School directors this week unanimously approved a five-year contract with Groomes Transit, which is doing business as Quest Transit.

The new agreement includes a 1.5 percent reduction in the pricing for school buses and a 4 percent reduction for school vans from January 2013 through the end of the 2013-14 school year.

The district pays $264.49 per bus per day, a figure that will drop to $260.52 beginning in January. The price for a minibus will go from $203.11 to $200.06. Vans will go from $197.80 to $190.

The district typically has 16 buses, 10 minibuses and three vans on the road each day.

There will be a 3 percent increase for each of the four subsequent school years.

That agreement includes the current fuel escalation clause of $1 per day per bus for every 10 cents that the cost of fuel rises above $3 per gallon. An additional fuel de-escalation clause reduces the cost of each bus by $1 per day for every 10 cents fuel costs are below $2.50 per gallon.

“The service we get from Groomes is outstanding,” Superintendent John Molnar said after the meeting. “I can't say enough good things about how they take care of our kids.”

In a narrow 5-4 vote, the board adopted a resolution urging Congress to mitigate across-the-board cuts scheduled to occur Jan. 2. This resolution is to be forwarded to the president of the United States and individuals who represent the Southmoreland School District in the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives.

Voting in favor of the motion were school directors Josie Kauffman, Aimee Love, Jason Pawlikowsky, Gail Rhodes and board President Michael Bentz. Voting against the motion were school directors Ken Alt, James Beistel, Catherine Fike and Levi Miller.

“In the educational level, (federal funding) is a fairly small part of our budget,” Miller said. “I disagree with the assumption that state and local cannot fund the public schools.”

Fike asked that her name not even be listed on the resolution.

“I think anybody who loves their children, their grandchildren, who loves this country could not possibly ask our government to go further in debt,” Fike said.

Finally, Bentz appointed Miller, Rhodes, Pawlikowsky and Beistel to an ad hoc committee concerning negotiations with Service Employees International Union Local 32BJ, which involves custodians, maintenance employees and food service employees. A two-year agreement with that union expires June 30.

Paul Paterra is a staff editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-887-6101 or

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