Tonawanda News

Local News

October 27, 2012

Bus contract takes center stage at City of Tonawanda board meeting

Rainbow asks city for pay increase amid kids' rampant misbehavior

Tonawanda News — After the usual capital project updates were complete, discussion of busing issues in the district dominated Tuesday’s school board meeting. 

Rainbow Transportation representatives Terry Eisenman and Tom Witt attended the City of Tonawanda meeting to discuss various issues, as well as ask the board for a wage increase to take effect in January. 

“We don’t take this to the board lightly,” Eisenman said. “Our rate is way under the market on basic services and we need to sustain our relationship.” 

Wisenman asked for the current rate for a three-hour block, $187, to be increased to $211.  

Board members responded quite negatively. 

“We can’t in the middle of the year,” Board member Lynn Casal said. “If we negotiate with you, I fear we will have to negotiate with everyone else.” 

The rest of the board repeated Casal’s concerns and also argued the district just doesn’t have the money since all of the funds are already designated per the 2012-2013 budget. 

The agreement with Rainbow is set to be in effect until June 30, and board members argued that the company should have brought the request to the board back during budget time over the summer.

Rainbow also requested a fourth bus for the Riverview elementary routes. Representatives said the vehicles are having trouble staying on time and the buses are packed with students. 

The overcrowding and lack of supervision has been causing behavioral problems on the buses, according to Witt.

“We are asking for one more for a comfortable amount of kids,” Witt said. “It’s also an issue of hitting the times.” 

But board members again did not respond favorably.

“We were told, originally, they could do it with less buses and be on time,” Board President Jackie Smilinich said.

However, Riverview Principal Claudia Panaro echoed some of Witt’s complaints and told stories of numerous behavioral issues and fights on the buses. 

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