EMTA raising bus rates for Erie School District amid requests for adding new bus aides
And Superintendent, Brian Polito, says the situation could prove to be even more costly for the district.
In the meeting Wednesday night, Superintendent Polito revealed the Erie Metropolitan Transit Authority wants the district to hire as many as 25 part-time aides to work on EMTA school routes.
Polito says last year, the district placed aides on buses with incidents but didn’t believe the issue was widespread.
The request comes at a time when the authority decided to change their bus rate for the district to use their services.
The new asking price is a per-hour basis, which the district believes could cost them roughly $1.3 million, a nearly 80 percent increase from what they would pay without the hires.
And if the district doesn't hire the aides by the start of school on August 27, the EMTA could charge the district in damages, which could cost them an estimated $2.7 million.
The cost to pay the aides would be around $200,000 before the EMTA’s hourly rate.
"Just coming out of our protracted financial crisis, it’s going to be a real challenge for us to manage that." Polito said
A call to the EMTA was not returned. Right now, it is unclear if they truly plan to move forward with their aide requirements. The district, in the meantime, is doing what they can to be prepared.
The school recently purchased four new buses. The purchases helped the district to take back six routes from the EMTA. But if they were to cut ties with authority, it would require the district to take on roughly 20-25 additional routes.
"What we're focused on right now is this year's contract." Polito said
And once the situation can be solved.
"We'll take a look at next year, and look at a couple different options as far as what we could do moving forward." Polito said
We asked Polito if he believes a rise in spending would mean a rise in the school tax, and he told us, it's still too early to tell.
He recently filed a right-to-know request so the district can make sure the EMTA’s rate rise is supported by real numbers