- Hastings and Prince Edward District School Board (HPEDSB) - http://www.hpedsb.on.ca -

Letter from Board Chair Lucille Kyle Regarding Busing Contract Renewal

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Re: Transportation RFP and Busing Contract Renewal for Tri-Board Student Transportation Services

Dear Minister Lecce:

Thank you for your weekly calls with school board chairs. In past discussions, you stated that if there was something you could do to alleviate the issues around retaining bus drivers, we were to let you know.

I am writing to address the agreement that expires June 30, 2021 between Tri-Board Student Transportation Services and school bus operators for Hastings and Prince Edward District School Board, Algonquin and Lakeshore Catholic District School Board, and Limestone District School Board. These contracts were awarded as a result of an arbitrated settlement in 2015-2016 for a six-year term.

At HPEDSB, we have 25 individual operators, the majority of whom are small or medium, secondĀ­and third-generation, family-operated businesses. These operators are living with the trepidation and multiple anxieties ofCOVID-19, compounded by the new requirements of numerous daily protocols, all of which add more complexity to their already demanding responsibilities. With the impending RFP, they are living in fear of losing their family businesses and their livelihoods.

Familiarity with daily runs, combined with family nuances and community needs, cannot be replaced overnight by much larger operators. At HPEDSB, we appreciate our operators for the way they have handled their responsibilities during this global pandemic. Often, they provide the continuity and consistency that families and students need-the reassurance that they care about students and will ensue that students safely make it to school and return safely home at day’s end.

We ask you to consider an exemption or deferral for the time being, while we struggle through this global pandemic. We are not asking to eliminate the RFP process, as we recognize its importance in a fair market and open competitive procurement process. The fact is: rural life presents far different challenges than urban. Slowing the process will provide stability in our communities while supporting the challenges rural and small towns face now, and in the months ahead.

As the Board of Trustees, we need to assure our constituents that they matter. We recognize the work bus operators have done in our rural communities over and above their day-to-day work. People are afraid of the unknown. We need to assure them that Board members are doing all they can to calm anxieties and support our communities.

Thank you for your ongoing support and consideration of this request. I look forward to hearing back at your earliest convenience.

Sincerely,

Lucille Kyle
Chair of the Board