Onteora to save $300,000 on bus contract’s first year

Members of the Onteora Marching Band performing during this year’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade in New York City. (photo by Kelly Sinclair)

Members of the Onteora Marching Band performing during this year’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade in New York City. (photo by Kelly Sinclair)

The Onteora District Board of Education approved by unanimous vote a new long term transportation contract that reduces its fees by $300,000 in the first year. By the fifth year of the contract, Onteora will still be paying less for that year than it is today.

Arthur F. Mulligan, Inc. was the lowest bidder (out of three). At its March 18 meeting at Woodstock Primary School, district officials requested board approval on the new contract of $2.5 million, a reduction from the current contract of $2.8 million.


Mulligan is owned by Bernie Bus and is the current contracted transportation provider with the district. The bid covers a five-year term and the contract will need voter approval in May, while the funds to pay for it must be approved in each year’s budget. The contract will increase yearly to $2.7 million over the five years.

There were five separate contracts in the package: home to school, special education and private school, sports, summer special education, and summer school. No company presented an individual bid. Of the companies that came forward with a bid, they were only interested if they were going to get all five contracts,” said school board vice president Tony Fletcher. covering for President Ann McGillicuddy who was absent.

Additionally, by unanimous vote, the board approved a resolution that will ask voters to free up money from reserves for capital projects totaling $7 million. Trustees chose two referendums that will appear on the ballot: one will free up $5 million from a capital project reserve account and an additional $2 million from the district’s undesignated fund balance. In return the district will receive 30 percent of it back in State Aid. It was pointed out that using the funds put aside for such purposes already will avoid having to borrow, with interest. Assistant Superintendent for Business Victoria McLaren explained that the public, “voted to put the money in reserve and they must actually vote to authorize us to spend it.” McLaren said the $2 million from the fund balance needs to be returned to tax payers or used in order to fall within the allowable four percent fund balance limit in the budget.

The bulk of the funds will go for facility upgrades to the Middle/High school including a new boiler, reconstruction and asbestos abatement in the corridor ceiling, plumbing upgrades and replacing the pavement in the parking areas. Phoenicia Primary School will also get a new boiler.

In the latest draft of the 2014/15 budget, an additional $3.4 million from the fund balance is proposed to be used to offset the tax levy, that is currently projected with no increase at all. Employee health insurance was initially projected to increase by 2.2 percent, but final numbers will set it higher at a 5.2 percent increase. State aid will decrease by $35,613 — however final figures will not be known until the state budget passes, on or about April 1. There are no reductions to staff listed. Two new classes will be added — robotics as an elective at the High School level and foreign language beginning in grade seven. Bennett Intermediate School will be gaining a guidance counselor.