Stephen Schmuck, region vice president for Durham School Services, Woonsocket Schools bus service contractor, asked the Budget Commission for a timely resolution to the $906,000 bill owed to them by the district Monday.
"This is a major concern of ours," Schmuck said during the start of the Comission's 8 a.m. meeting on the third floor of City Hall, "I don't know how much we can go on."
At the moment, there is no action to extend the contract with the company to provide bus service to Woonsocket Schools in the fall, "...and I don't know who will be," Schmuck said.
Giovanna Donoyan, Superintendent of Woonsocket Schools, said the district had reached out to a local contractor to see if they would provide services if Durham were to stop. Mayor Leo Fontaine said the contractor had lost the original bid. This morning, School Committee member John Donlon identified the back-up vendor as Valley Transportation.
"Which I might say is very concerning, that you're going to leave a million dollars on the the table owed to us and go find someone else to provide services," Schmuck said.
"We were not going to do that," Donoyan said. She assured him the school department only intended to contact Valley Transportation as an emergency measure if Durham stopped services. "In our hearts we knew that Durham wouldn't let us down," she said.
Sequino said he'd prefer to see a bid for fall bus services, but Schmuck said that making a bid this late in the school year would be difficult.
Commission member Dina Dutremble told Schmuck she didn't think the school department intended to abandon their debt to Durham and start with another company. She also asked Donoyan if higher rates for next year's bus services had been figured into next year's budget.
Donoyan said she didn't know if B&E Consulting had used updated rates when they helped the School Committee construct their budget. The firm has since informed the School Committee that their contract for creating a budget for the school department had been met, and that they will not provide any further consulting on it. "I would think that a reasonable person would think that they did," Donoyan said.
Commission member Mayor Leo Fontaine said B&E Consulting had factored in a small increase for next year over the current budgeted amount of $1,046,000."
I do need to know the direction of where we're going very quickly," Schmuck said. He said information about timing of payments on the bill would be helpful, and noted that the city could contact him at any time. Dutremble told him the Commission would be discussing accounts payable this week, so his appearance was timely.
After the meeting Schmuck said he believed the city and school department are acting in good faith. "I do believe that their intent is to have us return," he said.