Niskayuna, Scotia-Glenville and BOCES moving toward new shared transportation service

The Niskayuna and Scotia-Glenville Central School Districts are working in partnership with Capital Region BOCES to merge their bus maintenance and transportation offices into a single BOCES-run service. 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.

Both districts pursued the new service because of their commitment to fiscal responsibility and maximizing available resources for student programs.

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 in positions that will move to the new service will automatically have jobs with BOCES. They 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 has scheduled a special meeting on Monday, July 23, to act on the shared service.

Approximately 15 positions across both districts, including a transportation supervisor and mechanics and office staff, would move to BOCES as part of the new service. Bus drivers are not part of this transition.

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.

The goal of the districts and the BOCES is to have the new service operational by the beginning of the 2018-19 school year in September, or very shortly thereafter. They are continuing to work through the necessary procedural and logistical steps, ranging from Civil Service requirements to establishing an integrated and more streamlined office structure.

District and BOCES officials are holding a series of 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.

“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.”

“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.”

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.