Trenton School Board Votes to Outsource Busing
District busing has been outsourced in Trenton, but what does that mean for the current staff of over 20 drivers?
Budget conditions and an aging bus fleet were blamed for the decision.
The recommendation came after months of research and analyzing from the three former superintendent interns Vince Porreca, principal at Hedke Elementary School; Stephanie O'Connor, principal at Arthurs Middle School and Rodney Wakeham, assistant principal at Trenton High School.
Three transportation companies were considered to take over all district busing, including staff, and the former interns selected Lansing based Dean Transportation.
Wakeham and Porreca were at the meeting to give board members a final assessment of transportation costs.
Porreca said the major issue facing Trenton Public Schools is an ailing bus fleet. The district could not afford to replace the current fleet at about $90,000 for each new bus.
District officials will now begin meeting with officials from Dean Transportation to draw up a contract, which Porreca said will include guaranteed bus maintenance at no additional cost.
The district currently offers full-service busing including general education, special education, mid-day busing, field trips and athletic events. As of now, there are no anticipated changes to district transportation.
Last year, transportation was dropped from the district, but additional tax revenue allowed board members to reinstate busing for one year.
All of TPS's over 20 bus drivers will have the opportunity to interview with Dean Transportation in order to keep their current jobs and seniority, but compensation is no longer decided by TPS.
Porreca said the recommendation was based on budget restraints and not TPS's bus drivers.
"Under no circumstances do we believe that our current bus service ... has ever done anything except operate with the highest standards and that's evident throughout the entire transportation department," Porreca said.
Dean Transportation specializes in busing for school districts throughout Michigan and across the country.
Dean Transportation has twice been named the top school bus company in North America and was recently awarded two environmental awards for its commitment to clean transportation, according to the Dean Transportation website.