Valley Breeze

The Valley Breeze Pawtucket 04-07-2021

The Valley Breeze Newspapers serving the Northern Rhode Island towns of Cumberland, Lincoln, Woonsocket, Smithfield, North Smithfield, Pawtucket, North Providence, Scituate, Foster, and Glocester

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PAWTUCKET EDITION | VALLEY BREEZE | APRIL 7-13, 2021 PAWTUCKET 3 PAWTUCKET – While sharing buses with the William M. Davies Career and Technical High School seemed like a good idea on paper, Pawtucket families and officials have grown frustrated with the delays it has caused students both before and after school. "We aren't doing a good service to our families in Pawtucket," Erin Dube, deputy chairwoman of the Pawtucket School Committee, said at the March 25 meeting. "They want buses on time for their families." To remedy the situation, school board members voted 6-0 to go out to bid for a new transportation contract without including Lincoln- based Davies. Member Joanne Bonollo was absent from the meet- ing. As the current five-year contract with First Student is set to run out, the district has put out a request for proposals for student transportation, with bids due back April 21. Currently the Pawtucket School District has 32 buses provided by First Student and approximately 11 of those are shared with Davies, bringing students who live in Pawtucket to the career and tech school in Lincoln and back home in the afternoon. Before the pan- demic, the district had between 40 and 43 buses, according to Melissa Devine, chief financial officer for the Pawtucket School Department. Buses in Pawtucket run on a three- tier system, Dube told The Breeze, so each bus completes a certain number of runs, and the district pays per bus, not per runs. Under the current bus contract, she said, Davies pays Pawtucket to use the buses during the first-tier run, "which sounded good on paper." In reality, however, due to traffic, the buses are often late getting to their second-tier runs in Pawtucket, and then both the second-tier and third-tier runs end up being late, so students on those buses are getting to school late in the morning and/or getting home late in the afternoon, she said. "Those 11 buses all struggle with lateness … (and) are not reliable." At the meeting, Devine explained that Davies reimburses the School Department for the cost of those buses, and over the past three years has reimbursed Pawtucket $1.28 mil- lion. Dube, who sat on a subcommit- tee that reviewed the bus contract, said that with the current system in place, delays have been up to 30 minutes in some instances. She said she doesn't think the district has a good relationship with Davies as far as busing is concerned but doesn't think it's the Lincoln's school's fault. Whenever there's an accident or road construction between Lincoln and Pawtucket, the buses end up being late, she noted. Member Kim Grant, who also sat on the subcommittee that reviewed the bus contract, agreed with Dube, saying that a two-minute wait is one thing but a half-hour is another story. Pawtucket's decision to go out to bid alone leaves Davies on its own to provide transportation for its Pawtucket students. Pawtucket doesn't provide Davies with all of its buses, and Davies has other options for busing, including state- wide transportation, Dube said. "For (Pawtucket) parents of Davies students, they will still have a bus, it just won't say Pawtucket on the side," she said. Asked what the Pawtucket School Committee's deci- sion means for Davies, officials at the school told The Breeze "we have no real comment because there is no issue," adding that the "transition will be completely seam- less for all of our current and future Pawtucket students." Cheryl Carroll, business coordinator at Davies, noted that it will just be a change from paying Pawtucket to paying a bus company directly. They may use statewide transportation, she said, since most other districts in the state use that. Answering a question from Chairman Jay Charbonneau about whether going out to bid without Davies would cost Pawtucket more money, Devine said the price could increase but she said they might also need one less bus if they don't have to travel outside the district. "I don't want to guarantee that," she said. While Dube said she understands there's a money-saving aspect to partnering with Davies, the district needs to "provide better customer service to our parents." According to a copy of the request, the new contract would be for three years plus two additional option years. How Pawtucket uses its buses is a fluid situation, especially with cur- rent and upcoming school construc- tion projects that move students around to different buildings, Dube said. "Our elementary schools drive our bus need," she said, adding that they're paying for whole buses regardless of how they use them. "We can use them however we want before the elementary schools need them," she said. Without needing to send buses to Davie's and since no high school students in the district are currently bused to school unless they qualify for special needs, Dube said she will be proposing to modify the trans- portation policy to pick up students within a 2-mile radius of their high school, noting that she believes Pawtucket is the only district in the state that doesn't bus students who live 2 miles away. Also at the meeting, school board members: • Approved several budget trans- fers including from purchase services to graduation supplies for the pur- chase of caps and gowns for seniors graduating; from rental/leasing to equipment for the purchase of aging copiers within the district; from transportation to capital reserve fund for summer work on HVAC/con- densate lines at Goff Middle School and Curtis Elementary School; from various maintenance accounts (rub- bish, repairs, lumber andhardware, supplies, snow plow services) to electrical repairs for HVAC controls system installation at the school administration building. • Approved a design development package to submit to the Rhode Island Department of Education for boiler replacement work and a univent project at Agnes Little Elementary School and a univent project at Curtis Elementary School. As part of the projects, units will be inspected to determine if any repairs are needed. John Cote, director of physical plant for the Pawtucket School Department, said that for what the district is willing to pay, making repairs is more affordable than complete replacements. • And awarded a bid for $966,000 to H. Carr and Sons, of Providence, for exterior framing work for the Winters Elementary School construc- tion project. Citing consistent delays, Pawtucket seeks new bus contract minus Davies By MELANIE THIBEAULT Valley Breeze Staff Writer melanie@valleybreeze.com DUBE S TA C H U R S K I LINCOLN 270 Front Street 401-724-5600 PAWTUCKET 1136 Newport Avenue 401-725-1115 WWW.C21SKI.COM ? PAWT. DARLINGTON: PRICE REDUCED! 3 Unit apartment, great opportunity to run a business and have rental income from the 2 apts. Tenants pay heat and electric. Vinyl siding, roof (one year old). This space can have many uses, accountant, hair salon, nail salon etc. $375,000. 401-724-5600. LINC./SAYLESVILLE: PRICE REDUCED: Multi Family-Duplex. Property has two units on the top floor, ea. with one bed & one bath. One unit on the bottom floor that could be made into another apartment w/ ½ bath. Full one car garage. Private back yard, located at end of dead end street. $320,000. 401-724- 5600. Lydia Smith 401-808-0430 Nancy Denelle 617-803-7998 PAWTUCKET, OAK HILL, Be sure to see this lovely 2 family with 3 beds on each floor, Features formal dining room w/pantry kitchen & granite counters, hardwood floors, 2 gas heating systems, replacement windows throughout and sided exterior. This home is located in prestigious oak Hill area of Pawtucket, near the East Side of Providence. Close to highway, shopping, schools and more. $375,000. 401-724-5600. PAWTUCKET, DARLINGTON, Charming 3 bed, 1300+ sq ft cape cod. Hardwood floors on both floors, black & white tile bath, formal dining room w/crown molding, living room w/fireplace, oversized newer kitchen w/ sunroom & sliders to back deck, master bedroom has 2 good size closets. Basement has a knotty pine rec room, 3 year old gas fired boiler. $299,900. 401-724-5600.

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