District Looking Into Privatizing Busing
In an effort to continue providing busing for the 2012-13 school year, Trenton Board of Education members voted in favor of a request for proposal for the privatization of district busing.
Trenton Board of Education members approved a request for proposal for the privatization of district busing for the 2012-13 school year at Monday's regularly scheduled board of education meeting.
Superintendent interns Stephanie O'Connor, Vince Porreca and Rodney Wakeham presented a request for proposal to board members Monday night to determine the overall cost of turning over all or part of district busing to an outside company.
Selling or leasing the district busing facility and vehicles, including buses, was also part of the proposal.
Wakeham said one of the complications with privatizing busing and selling the bus fleet is the difficulty involved with the potential to go back to district run busing.
He added companies might be interested in the transportation facility because of its location. The facility is located along Fort Street, which has easy access to I-75.
"One of the concerns school districts have is once we go down this route and we decide to go with privatized transportation, are we locked in now?" Wakeham said. "Because we've gotten rid of our bus fleet, and for us to go back to providing our own transportation would be a cost that, in this day and age, our school district can't afford."
Wakeham said the proposal has a section pertaining to the possible retention of current transportation employees. The companies considered for privatization must give an opportunity for district employees to be hired.
Several transportation employees attended the meeting and spoke to board members about employee related repercussions of privatization.
Transportation employee Sandra Walters spoke to board members of the dangers of hiring new people to transport district students.
"The people you have now working for you...they are honest and you can trust them," Walters said. "Do you want strangers in those positions?"
The interns interviewed three potential companies to take over district busing. The companies interviewed were Trinity Transportation, First Student and Dean Transportation. The request for proposal is not limited to these companies.
Porreca said the need to consider privatization of transportation stems from a lack of funding to provide busing for the 2012-13 school year.
The district had initially cut busing for the 2011-12 school year, but busing was reinstated after the district received unexpected revenue. However, the funding was not permanent.
Superintendent Larry Leapley said he believes the district must offer some type of busing to students.
"We truly believe that we need to offer some kind of busing," Leapley said. "My stance has always been that we can't operate this district without some type of transportation."
The request for proposal was set to be mailed out Tuesday morning, the bid openings for transportation services would begin on April 17 and presented to board members on April 30.
Board members are scheduled to make a decision on May 14.