MOUNT POCONO, MONROE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) – Pocono Mountain School District is exploring options to outsource its student transportation services. Parents have concerns about the proposal and wonder what it could mean for students and their long-time bus drivers. 

According to a union representative, about 200 school bus drivers could lose their jobs. Many have given their life’s work to the district. 

From the first day of kindergarten through their current junior year, the same smiling bus driver has greeted the Palmer twins. 

“I can rest easy knowing that Ms. Annie’s on the job and the kids are going to get to and from school safely,” says Jillian Palmer, mother. 

The twins’ mom, Jillian, worries their beloved bus driver’s job is in jeopardy. She adds, “this is something that could impact the entire community in a detrimental way I believe.”

According to a Pocono Mountain School District representative, the school board’s goal is to determine if the current in-house service is the best, most economical option for the district and its taxpayers.

“I don’t know if you could really put a figure on the safety of your kids,” says Dawn Cello, bus driver & union representative.

Dawn Cello is a district bus driver of 19 years. She’s also the union president representing the district’s support staff, including her fellow bus drivers.

She adds, “it’s scary, because you don’t know what’s going to happen after being there for that long.”

If the outsourcing proposal goes through, Cello says two things could happen.

A contracted company could bring in new drivers from out of the area, or current drivers could be re-hired for lower wages, while losing benefits and seniority. 

Cello says, “you lose everything that you’ve worked for for 20 years.”

Many drivers and parents agree; it’s about more than just losing jobs, but losing bonds too. “A lot of our bus drivers have watched our children grow up,” Palmer recalls.

There is a public hearing regarding the issue at Pocono Mountain East High School on Wednesday, November 14th at 6 pm. 

There’s also this petition against the outsourcing proposal that’s circulating online 

Eyewitness News has learned the Pleasant Valley School District began outsourcing its transportation services several years ago. 

PMSD FULL STATEMENT:

“The Pocono Mountain School District Board of Education directed its Superintendent and Central Administrators to develop and issue a Request for Proposals for Student Transportation Services at its regular public Board meeting on September 5, 2018.
 
The Administration issued the RFP for Student Transportation Services the following week.
 
The RFP is a fact-finding effort for the Board to determine if Pocono Mountain’s current method of providing student transportation services in-house is the best option for the District and its taxpayers or if contracting out such services would be more beneficial.
 
Pocono Mountain’s School Board has not made a decision regarding contracting out the District’s Student Transportation Services and issuing an RFP does not require the Board to take any specific action.
 
The School Board is committed to providing the very best quality of educational services for Pocono Mountain students in the most effective, efficient and economical means possible for its parents and taxpayers.”