By Marilou Newell

            Tri-Town school districts are switching their outsourced custodial services and agreed to restructure their Bristol Aggie transportation on July 11 during a meeting of the Marion, Mattapoisett, and Rochester School Committees, voting to allow the administration to seek less costly quotes from various bussing companies.

            Facilities Director Gene Jones told the school committees that several years ago the school districts made the move to outsource custodial services, but the company they chose “didn’t work out well.”

            According to Jones, some of the contracted services weren’t being performed regularly, and creating a checklist to enforce custodial procedures was unsuccessful.

            “The schools were clean, but not in accordance with the scope of work that we hired them for in the contract,” said Jones.

            The committee approved a one-year custodial contract with FM & M (Facilities Management and Maintenance), a non-profit, union-represented custodial firm. The districts will also be able to renew that contract for another two years if they are satisfied with FM & M.

            At the request of the committees, Jones will provide regular reports on progress with the new company “… and they will provide an opportunity to make the environment clean and safe for our students,” said Superintendent Doug White.

            As for Bristol Aggie transportation, Business Administrator Paul Kitchen (resigned effective September 24) explained that the three towns currently transport their students to Dighton using two different companies and two different routes.

            Mattapoisett students participate in a combination run stop at the Fairhaven Stop & Shop using Whaling City Transit, while Marion and Rochester share a combined route with Braga Transportation.

            Kitchen said he found Mattapoisett’s daily cost of $290 to be “a little expensive” and proposed the Tri-Town seek bids to use one company for a combined Tri-Town route.

            “It (the route) wouldn’t be as long as what the Fairhaven one was,” which leaves Fairhaven and then travels to Lakeville, Freetown, and Dighton, said Kitchen. He said he’s seeking the most effective and efficient method of getting Tri-Town students to the agricultural high school.

            Transportation to Bristol Aggie falls under each individual town’s budget, and Kitchen said organizing to create one contract with one company is “the most efficient way to get kids there without putting the ugly burden on the K-6 budget.”

            Kitchen did add that bussing Tri-Town students to Bristol Aggie could require two vehicles due to the distance between students in each of the three towns.

            “I’m just trying to minimize the cost because the cost is not broken out separately from your elementary expenditures,” Kitchen said.

            Kitchen said he would have a final quote for approval by the end of July.

Marion, Mattapoisett, and Rochester School Committees

By Jean Perry

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