In a "proposed decision and order," the state Labor Relations Board called for the Williamsport Area School District to rescind its contract with its bus company and reinstate its former drivers with back pay.
Hearing examiner Donald Wallace states in the court document made available Tuesday the district "committed an unfair practice" leading up to the decision to outsource its busing services to Student Transportation of America in Punxsutawney last June.
Phone calls made to Wallace for further comment were not returned as of press time.
The Williamsport Area Support Professionals union filed an unfair labor practice charge against the district last June, on the basis that the district entered bargaining with the intent to outsource the work and did not bargain fairly with the union on the issue.
The 14-page document lists the history and presentation of facts on the issue made by each side, and Wallace's analyses of the testimonies.
Cary Kurtz, a UniServe representative with the Pennsylvania State Education Association, believes the document "validates what we said all along."
"We were saying the district didn't approach this whole subcontracting issue in good faith," Kurtz said. "We still think we can work cheaper in-house."
District officials declined comment and referred calls to attorney Benjamin L. Pratt, who was not available Tuesday afternoon.
During a June 2 meeting, district officials voted to contract transportation services. The move was projected to save taxpayers about $3.5 million over the next four years, beginning with about $1.5 million this year when its fleet of buses sold to STA for $1 million.
In September, Tim Krise, vice president of STA, announced his company hired 30 of the 35 bus drivers formerly employed by the district.
The company also purchased 14 new buses.
The proposed decision and order will give a 20-day window for each side to file an exception to the opinion, according to Christopher Manlove, spokesman for the state Department of Labor and Industry.
If one party files, then the other party has 20 days to offer a rebuttal, Manlove said. If none are filed, he said the hearing examiner's decision becomes final and can be enforced.
If exceptions are filed, the whole case is given to the three-member state Labor Relations Board, which issues a final order that can uphold, modify or reverse the decision, Manlove said.
He added the parties may appeal to the Common Pleas Court after the final order is given.