The Kings Park Board of Education continued to look into the issue of contracted busing and addressed a flyer placed around the community during homecoming week that said District Superintendent Susan Agruso was taking steps to get rid of the current busing system and that the community should not believe the lies that were being presented.
"If we are going to have a conversation about busing consultants there are some things that are mentioned in this notice that are incorrect so let's clear them up before we go forward," said board president Bill Motherway.
Motherway read the letter at Tuesday evening's meeting saying the flyer was not accurate and that the review of the busing system came at the request of a resident, not Agruso and the review had the support of the board.
"That is a lie and I can tell you why. We are looking at a busing consultant because we were asked to by a resident with the support of this board," said Motherway.
“We are looking to review our costs,” said board vice president Marie Goldstein. “This is not something where the decision has been made.”
The board did agree, at the Tuesday evening meetng, to allow Agruso to search for a consultant who would be willing to look at existing data from a report that investigated the benefits and challenges of contracted busing system seven years ago.
Members of the board said that much of the data that was provided by a consulting firm back in 2004 is still useful information today. The board agreed, however, that the financial data provided in the report would have to be run again, citing changing numbers in school aid, enrollment and school budgets.
“The data is seven years old and not applicable,” said Agruso. “The report has some value but is not sufficient to make a decision at this time,” she said.
According to Agruso, the firm that did the 2004 report was not willing to update the data in the findings and said she would like to be given time to find a company that would.
“The decision is to investigate whether or not a company is willing to go ahead and do the analysis,” said board trustee Steve Weber in reference to finding a consulting firm willing re-evaluate the numbers, but not the entire report.
Board trustee Tom Locascio asked the board to take a harder look at the 2004 report and its findings.
“I don’t know to what extent we have even reviewed what has been recommended,” said Locascio.
The 2004 report was not available for the Tuesday evening meeting, but the board said that it will be made available on the district website.
“There are a lot of recommendations that have not been used or utilized in this district so let’s look at that and let’s look at the numbers because the numbers have to be updated," said Motherway.
The board continued to receive opposition from members of the transportation department who believe it is not in the best interest of the district or its students to switch to contractual busing.
Mechanic Dave Guichard relayed a story to the board regarding the homecoming pep rally where 90 students needed to be bused from the middle school to the high school and in an apparent oversight, busing had not been scheduled.
“Bus drivers returned to the school. Within five minutes every available bus driver returned to the district. Within five minutes we had 90 students transported safely. You have a contractor in here that doesn’t happen. This is what we do. It happens every day,” said Guichard