Palatine Township Elementary District 15 and its transportation union are more than $4 million apart in calculating what it will cost to outsource busing.
According to a presentation Assistant Superintendent Mike Adamczyk is expected to make at the school board meeting Wednesday, the district will save about $1.3 million over three years by contracting to Durham School Services.
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Meanwhile, the District 15 Transportation Union stands by estimates that keeping the operation in-house will save $2.8 million compared to outsourcing when taking into account reimbursements from the state.
"This is the information we received from ISBE (Illinois State Board of Education), and we will be staying with those same numbers," DTU President Carin Ulrich said.
Adamczyk references ISBE in his report as well, writing that the district accessed the organization's transportation reimbursement work sheets "to verify that the district calculations were correct."
He said the district's legal counsel reviewed the bid and found it complies with all applicable state statutes, and that the district checked the mathematical accuracy of Durham's bid cost projections and found only minor variations.
"It was a difference of pennies," Adamczyk said. "Essentially rounding differences."
After reimbursements, Durham's net cost to District 15 is about $15.6 million over three years beginning this fall. The district estimates staying in-house will cost about $16.9 million.
The savings are significantly less than the $3.3 million projected in the company's first bid, rejected by the board for not meeting certain specifications.
The outsourcing issue has driven a deep wedge in recent months between the district and the union, which is in the midst of negotiating a new contract. They're set to meet again April 16.
Adamczyk's analysis also considers a proposal by Gov. Pat Quinn that would cut transportation reimbursement even further. If implemented, the district would save about $750,000, he said.
Adamczyk said he believes the discrepancy in calculations stems from the union's statement that the district's fee to Durham isn't reimbursable.
"We believe the whole fee is reimbursable," Adamczyk said, adding that other districts that have contracted transportation follow the same practice. "That's what the big difference is, and we've clarified some things with ISBE to make sure that's the case."
Ulrich disagreed, and said the union will use every legal option available if the district moves forward with outsourcing, including grievances, binding arbitration and litigation. She said even when considering reimbursements, it's still cheaper to keep busing within the district.
"If the district continues its path of intentionally violating state laws, we will do everything in our power, regardless of cost or time involved, to force the district to obey the law," Ulrich said.