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updated: 4/11/2013 11:51 AM

Dist. 15 union, bus company pitch very different busing plans

Board members hear opposing takes on outsourcing transportation

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Palatine Township Elementary District 15 board members are hearing two very different pitches related to outsourcing bus service -- one from the transportation company out to win a contract and one from the union trying to protect its drivers' jobs.

The two sides were at odds during Wednesday's board meeting, with representatives from Durham School Services touting cost savings and safety measures, and the union rejecting the bid as more expensive and subject to litigation.

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Justin Grygiel, director of business development for Warrenville-based Durham, which employs more than 1,200 drivers in the state, made a presentation emphasizing the training and scrutiny drivers undergo. In addition to background checks, aptitude tests, interviews, medical exams, physical fitness reviews and random drug tests, drivers go through at least 52 hours of training.

Grygiel also pointed to Durham's accident frequency rate in Illinois, which has ranged between 0.1 and 0.49 accidents per 1 million miles the last three years.

Community Unit District 300 in Carpentersville contracted bus service to Durham in 2007 and, just as District 15 would, continued to maintain its own fleet of buses. Grygiel said District 300 recently renewed its contract and requested that Durham start providing vehicle replacement as well.

"It's another value you could consider as you move forward long term," he said.

Assistant Superintendent Mike Adamczyk discussed Durham's bid, providing revised estimates showing more than $1.5 million in savings -- up from about $1.3 million earlier this week -- over three years. He reiterated confidence that certain expenses such as Durham's management fee would be reimbursed by the state.

Amy Kunz of the Illinois Education Association again disagreed that outsourcing would save money. In fact, she said it would cost the district about $2.8 million more than to keep the operation in-house.

She said IEA attorneys are "deeply connected" with the laws governing transportation reimbursement, and that the union believes Durham's bid doesn't meet minimum requirements under state law.

"Without hesitation, we believe the Durham bid not only violates the law, but we also believe the district's notion that it will receive reimbursement for nonreimbursable expenses represents Pollyanna thinking at its finest," Kunz said.

Several parents and drivers also addressed the board opposing outsourcing. A couple pointed to Tuesday's re-election of board members Rich Bokor and Peggy Babcock, who have expressed reservations about the process, as evidence the community is not on board.

Busing: IEA representative says outsourcing is 'Pollyanna thinking at its finest'

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