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updated: 3/21/2013 6:12 PM

Dist. 15 union says lone bid to outsource busing is costlier

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The Palatine Township Elementary District 15 transportation union -- whose 200 members received layoff notices on Thursday -- said the one private busing company to submit a second-round bid will be costlier than keeping operations in-house.

Amy Kunz, who works with the union through the Illinois Education Association, said outsourcing with Durham School Services will cost about $750,000 more over three years.

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The union said it arrived at that figure using a savings analysis Assistant Superintendent Mike Adamczyk presented Jan. 29 at a committee of the whole meeting. That analysis showed outsourcing with Durham or First Student would result in three-year savings of $2.4 million and $1.4 million, respectively. But both bids were later scrapped for not meeting the district's bidding requirements.

Kunz said that on March 15 Adamczyk opened and read aloud Durham's proposal to provide busing for about $21.8 million over three years. According to the district's Jan. 29 analysis, staying with the in-house transportation department would cost a little more than $21 million.

Adamczyk confirmed Durham was the only company to submit a bid but declined to provide details, saying he's still evaluating it and plans to present the bid at the April 10 board meeting.

"I haven't even presented it to the board yet, and we don't release the results until the meeting," Adamczyk said.

Kunz said the union has reviewed Durham's bid and believes that outsourcing would cost the district $2.8 million more over three years when factoring in lower reimbursements through the Illinois State Board of Education. For example, Durham's bid in the first year includes $1.5 million in management fees that aren't eligible for reimbursement, she said.

Kunz said Durham's second bid -- First Student submitted a no-bid letter -- should have stopped the district from sending out the layoff notices received Thursday, which stated the transportation workers would be unemployed "due to outsourcing of personnel."

Board President Tim Millar, who on March 13 voted with the majority to authorize the notices, said the move was necessary to keep open the possibility of outsourcing. He said the state requires employees receive 90 days' warning, and reiterated the notices can be rescinded.

Kunz said the board used the "arbitrary" deadline of the union contract's expiration on July 1. The board should have counted 90 days back from when outsourcing begins, she said.

"In light of the bid coming in so much higher, to still issue RIF (reduction in force) notices for the purpose of outsourcing was very disappointing for the members," Kunz said. "And why would you outsource something that costs more?"

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