The Francis Howell School District Board of Education has decided to self-operate student transportation services, beginning with the 2019-20 school year.
The district has contracted student transportation services through First Student and its predecessor, Laidlaw, since 1999. Currently, it is in the final year of its most recent two-year contract extension.
According to district officials, school bus transportation is typically the second biggest expenditure for school districts after salary and benefits.
In an effort to identify possible cost savings and ensure the best service for students and parents, the district issued formal requests for proposals for student transportation services this year. It received proposals from Durham, First Student and North American Central. All three proposals included a cost increase over the current contract, with the lowest bid coming in at more than $10.5 million annually, according to district officials.
District administration then recommended and the board unanimously approve at its November meeting to bring bus transportation in-house.
District administration believes it can accomplish this transition for the amount of the lowest bid, or potentially less. Based on research conducted by the district staff, officials believe that in addition to cost savings students and parents will experience higher levels of customer service.
The district’s next step will be to hire a director of transportation services to direct the implementation of the in-house operations. Other staffing needs will include approximately 250 drivers, routers, aides and mechanics, district officials have said.
The proposed timeline for implementation of in-house transportation services includes a “go live” date of July 1, 2019.