SABATTUS — The bus vote stood.

In a 4-5 vote, school board directors opted Wednesday night to stick with a previous decision to privatize school busing next fall and lay off 22 drivers, Superintendent Jim Hodgkin said.

They also adopted an RSU 4 budget of $17,559,862, which is 2.16 percent higher than the current year. It includes a high school social studies position that would have been cut, as well as cutting 2.5 other positions and leaving four positions vacant when those employees leave their posts this year.

Busing once again drew a number of residents to the meeting. In April, the board had narrowly supported the move to privatize and save what Hodgkin estimates is around $233,000 a year.

A special meeting was called this week to reconsider that vote. But, given a chance to rescind and revisit, Vicki Russell, Scott Weeks, Joan Thomas and Will Fessenden voted in favor;  Chairman Robert Gayton, Rebecca Shedd, Greg Provost, Robert English and Amy Morissette were opposed.

The public will get a chance to weigh in on the budget June 6 at 6:30 p.m. at Oak Hill High School. Hodgkin said it is divided into 11 “cost centers,” including transportation, to be voted on either by hand or secret ballot. Someone can propose spending more on any of those areas but the public can’t dictate specifics.

“The board gets to decide how money is spent,” Hodgkin said.

Before that vote, he said, the board has to decide what to do with the one bid it received in a request for proposals to privatize. Only Northeast Charter submitted a bid, which includes offering the 22 bus drivers their old jobs back at the same pay, minus benefits.

Hodgkin said the board can accept that bid, modify it, reject it or go out for more RFPs.

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