WALES — After more than two hours of discussion Tuesday night, the school board delayed until next week voting on whether to privatize RSU 4 bus routes.

Superintendent Jim Hodgkin said the board is expected to vote at a meeting set for 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 26, at Oak Hill Middle School.

The district is considering a bid from Northeast Charter to privatize services, eliminating 15 full-time bus drivers’ jobs and saving $194,000 a year. The first year that savings would be cut into by severance packages.

“Easily 25 or 30 people spoke in favor of keeping the drivers; they would prefer to spend the extra money to keep the drivers that we have,” Hodgkin said. “This was pretty emotional but it really wasn’t emotion in, ‘What’s wrong with you people? How can you even consider this?’ I think they understood there’s a fair amount of money to be saved.”

Some people also spoke in favor of the move, he said, with one Wales resident likening it to the closure of Wales Central School, which saved the district $208,000 a year.

“He was really offended because a couple people said $194,000 isn’t that much money to pay for what we get,” Hodgkin said. “He very eloquently said the Wales community suffered a big loss in losing their building. People understood it was a business decision and essentially, this was as well.”

In a nonbinding straw poll, residents in Litchfield, Wales and Sabattus voted 2-1 two years ago to keep the bus system as is.

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