District Explores Privatizing Transportation, Puts Out RFP - WMBB News 13 - The Panhandle's News Leader

District Explores Privatizing Transportation, Puts Out RFP

Posted: Updated:

Privatization isn't a new concept for Bay District Schools after it privatized food services at the beginning of this school year. Now, the District is taking another look at privatization, this time for transportation.

According to the Request for Proposal put out by the District, the company would take over all aspects of management and personnel, but the District would maintain ownership of its bus fleet.

"We want to be able to keep our own fleet and put in place a replacement program, so we can start taking these older buses off the road and start buying new buses," says Dr. John Haley, Executive Director of Operational Support Services.

With about 150 buses, about 120 which are in route, nearly 30 percent of them need replacement. However, Dr. Haley says keeping the fleet is in the District's best interest because it would make it easier to reverse a decision to privatize.

"If you privatize and get rid of all your fleet and you decide we don't like this, then you've got to go back and buy 126 buses and 100 thousand dollars plus each," says Haley. 

For current transportation employees, like Buddy Parr who's been driving buses for 13 years, he fears this path will cost them their job or benefits.

"I feel like we've been let down," says Parr. "We're not going to have the benefits we've got now. We're not going to have the pay we've got now. We're not going to have anything."

For other employees it's the fear of a company trying to make a profit.

There are only so many places that you can actually cut things," says Stephen Myers, a school bus driver. "You're fix costs of operating, buying fuel, all that stuff. That's always going to be there no matter whether it's privatized or not. So where the cuts of course is in the personnel."

According to Dr. Haley the RFP says the company will have to hire the current district employees, except those in the DROP program, who would remain with the district.

The deadline for the companies is February 7th