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Franklin Schools to Reopen Tuesday Following Bus Bankruptcy Issues

Franklin Township schools were unexpectedly closed Monday due to a bankruptcy issue with the company that provides bus service to the Somerset County community. The district says classes will resume on Tuesday.

Franklin High School in Somerset County
Franklin High School in Somerset County (FranklinBOE.org)

A message posted to the Franklin Township School District’s website just after 6 p.m. Monday indicated that schools will be open Tuesday.

“The transportation issue has been resolved. All schools will be open tomorrow,” the website stated. “For some students transportation will be provided by a different bus company but every effort will be made to utilize the same bus drivers.”

No further information about the disruption is service or the resolution with the transportation company was given.

On Monday, Superintendent of Schools Edward Q. Seto said in a statement on the district’s website that the bus company, Atlantic Express, was not positive it could provide transportation today. The company had filed for bankruptcy and was expected to sell off portions of the business but would continue to provide service to Franklin schools. The sale was to be discussed at a meeting last Thursday night but was postponed due to weather until tonight.

During a meeting on Sunday it became apparent to Seto and the school’s attorney that Atlantic may not be able to provide complete transportation and the decision was made to cancel classes.

“Currently, the board attorney is in negotiations with the attorneys for Atlantic
Express and in contact with the Bankruptcy Court to facilitate the next steps
in this process,” Seto wrote, adding that they hoped to resolve the situation on Monday but also wanted to make an “informed decision.”

Statement from Franklin School Superintendent Edward Q. Seto Regarding Transportation Issue and School Closings

In early December the district received word that a bus company, Atlantic
Express, which currently provides transportation for the large majority of our
bus routes, had filed bankruptcy. At that time it appeared as though portions
of the company would be sold off.

In mid-December, the Bankruptcy Court agreed to allow the current manager
of the terminal which provides service to our district, to continue to run the
terminal and the routes for that company, pending the sale of that property. It
was expected that the final sale of the terminal and the equipment which
services our bus routes would be completed and approved by the Bankruptcy
Court in January.

A briefing, continued discussion and possible action on the transportation
issues appeared on the Agenda for last Thursday’s Re Organization Board
meeting. The Re Organization Meeting of the Board was cancelled due to bad
weather conditions and has been re scheduled for this evening, Monday,
January 6, 2014.

In consultation with Superintendent Edward Seto and John Calavano,
Assistant Superintendent for Business, our Transportation Supervisor and
Board attorney met with representatives of Atlantic Express yesterday, Sunday
January 5, 2014. At that time the company expressed a desire to move ahead
under the Bankruptcy Order. However, after that meeting, our attorney and
Transportation Supervisor were not confident in the company’s ability to fulfill
the obligation of transporting all of the students on the routes assigned to the
company. After being briefed on the matter, Mr. Seto and Mr. Calavano
concurred with the assessment.

While every effort was made to keep the schools open today, Monday, January
6, 2014, after careful consideration and to ensure the safety of our students,
Superintendent Seto made a decision to close the district schools today.
Currently, the Board attorney is in negotiations with the attorneys for Atlantic
Express and in contact with the Bankruptcy Court to facilitate the next steps
in this process. It is our hope that we will have a resolution to this matter
today.

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