School bus contract renewed another year

School bus contract renewed another year

SMITHFIELD - The School Committee has decided to renew for one year its contract with DATTCO bus company for $1.5 million, a 2 percent increase, rather than seek bids from other firms.

The committee took a unanimous voice vote in favor of accepting the Connecticut company's offer of a one-year contract extension, effective July 1.

The 2 percent increase represents about $32,000, committee members said.

Chairman Richard B. Iannitelli said if the increase were around $100,000 or so, he would feel differently but, for $32,000, "I'm not certain it's worth the gamble and the time (to go out to bid). I'm leaning toward staying where we are."

Committeewoman Kellie-Ann Heenan suggested the 2 percent increase is "not unreasonable," given the rising cost of fuel, maintenance and other factors.

The company also has been honored with safety awards for its practices, she noted.

"This only ties us for one year," said Committeewoman Virginia G. Harnois.

Supt. Robert M. O'Brien called DATTCO's service "excellent."

From the audience, taxpayer Joe O'Connor urged the committee to renew, noting that the performance audit commended the bus company.

"A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush is all I'll say," O'Connor said.

The vote took place at the Feb. 24 meeting at the high school.

At the March 3 meeting, the committee:

* Commended the high school boys' swim team for winning the state championship in its division, defeating Bishop Hendricken High School and breaking its 24-year winning streak. The 14-member team, together for four years, were at the meeting to receive the committee's congratulations, led by volunteer coach Dave Cote.

"Think of what we could do if we had a pool!" quipped Supt. Robert M. O'Brien.

* Approved without dissent a stipend of $2,029 for a boys lacrosse coach, needed because interest in the sport is growing fast, Athletic Director Tony Torregrossa said.

At Torregrossa's request, the committee agreed to review coaches' stipends "before the fall sports season," Iannitelli said.

The athletic director said stipends in Smithfield generally are lower than in competing communities.