At its Dec. 12 meeting, the Community Consolidated School District 15 Board of Education directed the administration to solicit competitive bids for the operation of its student transportation services for the 2013-14 school year.
Currently, District 15 owns and operates its own fleet of more than 160 buses and employs around 200 drivers, aides, mechanics and clerical staff members to coordinate and implement its student transportation services.
While no decision has been made regarding whether to keep transportation services in-house or privatize them, considering a private vendor to provide these services is part of the district's ongoing effort to demonstrate fiscal responsibility.
Currently, District 15 transportation staff members are represented by and employed under the terms of a contract negotiated with the District 15 Transportation Union (DTU). In the face of significant reductions in state reimbursements to school districts for transportation services, the district engaged a consultant to conduct an assessment of potential cost savings that could be realized should this service be privatized. For the 2012-13 school year, District 15 allocated approximately $6 million in salaries and expenses to support student transportation services. Preliminary estimates project annual savings at approximately $600,000.
The district will work closely with the DTU to review the bids and determine the next best steps that will reduce costs, while maintaining safe and reliable transportation services. The following is a probable timeline for the next steps:
• Bid specifications sent to possible private vendors (Dec. 13)
• Bids received and preliminarily reviewed (Jan. 10)
• Bids shared with the Board (Jan. 16)
• Discussions/negotiations with the DTU (late January-March)
• Bids analyzed and discussed at Board meeting (Feb. 13)
• Public hearing on transportation (regular board meeting in either March or April)
The district is committed to ensuring timely, safe and reliable bus service for our students. A thorough analysis of all factors and comments will be used in making the final decision.
Further information on this issue will be available throughout the process.