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Aging Bus Fleet Primary Reason for Outsourcing Transportation at Trenton Public Schools

The Trenton Public School district has 20 buses, and the average age of the buses is about 13 years old.

With bus repair costs piling up and even higher costs anticipated for the coming years, Trenton Board of Education members .

Bus repairs and maintenance costs are expected to grow exponentially in the coming years according to Vince Porreca, principal at Hedke Elementary School.

Porreca was one of who began researching and analyzing outsourcing district transportation in January and presented their findings to the school board.

The district has a fleet of 20 buses that are, on average, about 13 years old, and repairs have proved costly.

The original amount budgeted for bus repairs for the 2011-2012 school year was $32,123 and repair costs have since gone over the budgeted amount. However, at the time the budget was adopted the district only planned have special education transportation, according to Gail Farrell, district business manager.

The budget was amended in January for full transportation, but final repair and maintance costs are not yet available for the 2011-12 school year.

The cost to replace a bus ranges from about $70,000 to $90,000. The district does not have funds budgeted toward replacing buses.

Porecca, and Arthurs Middle School Principal Stephanie O'Connor put together a request for proposal from three different transportation companies and selected Dean Transportation to take over district busing.

The values provided in the request for proposal are estimates and are not actual bids and are subject to change.

Porecca said a cost effective scenario is for the district to sell its fleet to Dean Transportation, therefore Dean becomes responsible for repairs and maintenance costs.

The estimated first year cost of outsourcing through Dean, including a fleet buyout, is about $668,000. The cost to keep transportation in-house is about $835,000.

The district stands to save about $167,000 in the first year. The district must sell all buses in order to maximize the annual savings. Without a fleet buyout the cost for the first year of outsourcing increases to $851,000, which is $16,000 greater than the cost to keep transportation within the district.

The estimated costs for the second and third years are expected to rise. Porreca said he anticipates Dean Transportation to implement their own cost saving standards to bring future costs down.

Trenton Public Schools will retain the option to buy back their fleet at a prorated amount.

Porreca said, in the end, outsourcing transportation is the most cost effective way to provide busing for all students.

"We feel it's and escalator," Porecca said. "It (the cost of bus repairs and maintanance) goes up one year and down the next, but each year you're going to hit increased costs."

He added historical data shows an increasing trend of mounting repair and maintenance costs to the district.

Farrell said the exact amount of money the district stands to save each year is not yet available because district officials have not yet negotiated a contract with Dean Transportation.

Last year, the and Porecca said he hopes the district will no longer have to choose between providing transportation for all students and not.

sine-of-the-times June 28, 2012 at 03:50 AM
Sommerville says that we should spend money "in" the classroom, to which I replied, "Isn't getting them there the first step?" The REAL reason for outsourcing is because Lansing politicians do NOT want to provide our children with funds for education, but rather cheapen the experience any way they can. That is why the district if forced to save money this way, and others.
Jennifer Blackledge Moberly June 28, 2012 at 12:54 PM
Amen, Wendy. This is just another thing Lansing is forcing us to do so we can get OUR tax money back. Proposal A has been a slow financial strangulation, with the ultimate end goal of getting districts to cut to the bone and outsource EVERYTHING, even the schools themselves. It has happened already in at least one Michigan district.
TJ June 28, 2012 at 04:09 PM
Get rid of busing altogether. The 600-800k could be spent on more teachers. What's more important? Being in a class where the teachers can actually teach instead of just managing chaos or getting a bus ride to school?
sine-of-the-times June 28, 2012 at 04:39 PM
True TJ, but I remember the days when there was enough funding that we weren't forced to even be talking about these decisions and arguing these choices. Who woud have thought we'd have to sink this low for quality all-around public schools?
Home Owner, Tax Payer June 29, 2012 at 01:16 AM
The service will continue. The drivers and aides will lose pay and retirement. Many will leave to work in other districts. It is too bad because most of the staff lives here in Trenton. They had a vested interest in out schools.
Bob the Builder June 29, 2012 at 04:52 PM
I can't believe these highly paid educators can't do the simple math! The cost to outsource will be at least $167,000 HIGHER in the 2nd - 5th year of the contract. We could buy 2 buses a year and the maintenance cost would drop because they would be under warranty and keep our own drivers & aides.
Bob the Builder June 29, 2012 at 04:53 PM
I can't believe these highly paid educators can't do the simple math! The cost to outsource will be at least $167,000 HIGHER in the 2nd - 5th year of the contract. We could buy 2 buses a year and the maintenance cost would drop because they would be under warranty and keep our own drivers & aides.
sine-of-the-times July 03, 2012 at 03:31 AM
It really made me feel better knowing our bus driver, and she knew our kids, because she had a vested interest. It will be interesting to see how the "replacements" do. I hope the drivers find new quality jobs...once again, this is sad for Trenton, and American workers. Please remember these issues when you vote in November.

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