QUOTES: From Joint Meeting of Select Board and School Committee

 

Joint meeting of the Select Board and the School Committee on May 5. WESTFORDCAT PHOTO

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Editor’s Note: The Select Board and School Committee met on May 5 to discuss how to meet the town’s obligations toward the ongoing Dee Bus Service contract. The dilemma: the school transportation service ended in mid March, but the contract continues until the traditional end of the school year. Dee Bus is one more business impacted by COVID-19. The members of the Select Board and School Committee exchanged their thoughts and opinions but delayed taking a vote until their next joint meeting. Also present was an attorney, John Feher, representing the bus company.

To watch the entire meeting, visit westfordcat.org.

Below are quotes from some of the key decision-makers at the meeting.

Ingrid Nilsson

Director of School Finance

“Westford is part of a group of 13 districts that have Dee Bus Service. We havebeen negotiating with Dee representing all the districts. Our thought is that we should pay for some of the general overhead. We need the buses when we come back…But the group of 13 districts feel that a fair percentage would be around the 45 percent range that would cover most of the vehicle cost, maintenance, not fuel, not labor.”

Mark Kost

Select Board Member

“I don’t understand how a contract for which a private enterprise is essentially going to receive two-and-one-half months’ worth of salary and rent for which we’re getting no service on, while we have to subsidize that under some term that I’m not even sure is in a dictionary of whether the town can do everything that is practicable…I can’t offer an opinion because I don’t know how all of that stacks up. If I’m Dee Bus Company and I’m getting two-and-one-half months worth of salary and that’s going to cover me keeping my employees, than what is it I’m paying for as a town for this bus contract? I don’t get it because thos salaries are going to maintenance primarily.”

Everett “Bill” Olsen

Superintendent

We all know the concept of fixed and variable costs. What we’re not paying is the variable costs. I think we’re obligated to pay for that part of the contract that says we have buses here and they’re ready to go and they’re a total part of the contract..that’s why I think that 45 percent is a very fair figure to pay.

Attorney Matthew Feher

Representing Dee Bus Service

“Ingrid and I have had a couple of converations over the past couple of weeks…Quite franky, your contract document contains language that is very favorable to the town…It seems to me the town should consider  a contract amendment that would account for certain out of pocket actual costs relative to performance obligations under the contract. It would not include labor.”

Avery Adam

Chair, School Committee

“We will be taking a vote. We’ve been closely monitoring Ingrid’s progress. We’re not going to approve anything more than what Ingrid recommends…”