Category Archives: School.Bus

Only about 15 percent of Texas school districts outsource foodservices

Source: Mike Buzalka, Food Management, September 3, 2015

Only 153 of the 1,025 independent school districts in Texas contract out their food services, according to a survey by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Nevertheless, that ratio, about 15 percent of the districts, is the highest of the three types of services the Mackinac Center studied. … The numbers were contrasted with Michigan’s 542 school districts, which the Mackinac Center has been surveying for years. There, 42.8 percent of districts contract out foodservices, up from 28.6 percent 10 years ago.

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New Survey Says Texas Schools Behind Contracting Curve
Source: Michael D. LaFaive and James Quintero, Mackinac Center for Public Policy, September 2, 2015

The new statewide survey of Texas’ 1,025 independent school districts, prepared by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, a Michigan-based research institute, sought to find out how many school districts — if any — are getting the most bang for their buck by contracting out noninstructional services, like transportation, food, and custodial work. … The Mackinac Center found that only 153 districts, or 15 percent of those surveyed, contracted out for food services, the highest contracting rate of all three areas. Custodial and transportation contracting topped out at just 9.8 percent and 3.8 percent, respectively. Statewide, 22.8 percent of all conventional public school districts in Texas contract out for at least one of the three major noninstructional services. Only nine districts, or less than one percent, contracted out for all three noninstructional categories, transportation, food, and custodial services.

Survey: Pennsylvania is School Contracting Leader

Source: Michael D. LaFaive and Nathaniel Lehman, Mackinac Center for Public Policy, September 1, 2015

A recent survey of Pennsylvania’s conventional public school districts by a Michigan-based research institute indicates that 75.2 percent of those districts contract out with private vendors for at least one of the three major noninstructional services. … Of Pennsylvania’s 500 districts, officials from 499 of them were successfully interviewed by researchers at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy … Private transportation providers can be found in 66.3 percent of Pennsylvania districts, … Pennsylvania also has the highest rate for contracting out food service of any state in this year’s survey, at 44.5 percent. … Pennsylvania custodial contracting rate is only 8.8 percent …

Mackinac Center Survey Finds One-Third of Ga. School Districts Contract Out Services

Source: Michael D. LaFaive and Kelly McCutchen, Mackinac Center for Public Policy, August 28, 2015

More than a third of all conventional pubic school districts in Georgia contract out one of the three major non-instructional services, according to survey data collected this summer by a the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, a Michigan-based research institute. The Mackinac Center survey of Georgia and four other states found that 38 percent of Georgia districts contract out for at least one of the “big three” non-instructional services: food, transportation and custodial services. … But Mackinac found a curious pattern in Georgia: Just three districts — 1.7 percent — contract out transportation (bus) services, and only four, or 2.2 percent, contract out for food services.

Board concludes that an executive’s “veiled threat” interfered with election

Source: Igor Babichenko, Labor Relations Today, August 5, 2015

In Student Transportation of America, Inc., 362 NLRB No. 156 (Aug. 3, 2015), the National Labor Relations Board concluded that an executive’s statement, shortly prior to a union election, that the employer “could walk away” from a contract with the proposed bargaining unit’s only client if “operations became too costly” might have tarnished the vote. As part of its ruling, the Board ordered a new election if the union did not prevail on a re-tally with challenged ballots added to the existing pool of votes. The employer is a provider of transportation services to school districts from facilities throughout the United States. The proposed bargaining unit at issue was comprised of all drivers and mechanics employed at a specific township facility. The employer’s only client in that facility was the township. The employer’s contract with the township included a clause through which the township, but not the employer, could terminate the contract if the township determined that it lacked adequate funds to pay for the services under the contract. According to the testimony of an employee, at two employee meetings discussing unionization, the employer’s executive stated that the employer “had it written into [its] contract” with the township that the employer “could walk away” from the contract if operations “became too costly.” The employee also testified that the executive told the employees that he wanted the facility to succeed and “wanted to be in for the long haul.” After the union lost the election by one vote, it challenged the election results based in part on the executive’s statements.

Editorial: Bus contractors and drivers need more oversight

Source: Knoxville News-Sentinel, July 28, 2015

Over a two-year period, Knox County parents and educators filed more than a dozen complaints against a school bus driver, yet James Davenport was still behind the wheel of Bus 44 on Dec. 2 when it swerved into another bus, killing two students and a teacher’s aide. The complaints depict Davenport as a frequently late and verbally abusive driver who would tell children “to sit your (expletive) down and to shut the hell up.” … Derrick requested Davenport’s removal. At one point an administrator noted in the records that the contractor, Robert Burroughs, had been contacted and “the driver will not be on (Bus) 44 again.” … However, Davenport was at the wheel of Bus 44 on Dec. 2 when it crossed the median of Asheville Highway and struck Bus 57, driven by Joe Gallman, who was not licensed to drive a bus by himself. … Such silence during lawsuits is common and prudent, but nothing prevents Superintendent Jim McIntyre from instituting changes that could prevent similar situations in the future. For example, he could outline what additional steps the school system would take to make sure contractors actually remove problem drivers without compromising the schools’ legal position in the lawsuits. The school system must take every possible step to make its contractors and bus drivers accountable for the safety of Knox County school children.

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Family makes new claims in amended bus crash lawsuit
Source: Lydia X. McCoy, Konxville News-Sentinel, July 8, 2015

Knox County Schools demonstrated a “systemic failure” of its student transportation system in the Dec. 2 bus crash that killed two Sunnyview Primary School students and a teacher’s aide, according to an amended wrongful death lawsuit filed this week. Ukennia Arinze, the mother of 6-year-old Zykia Burns who was killed in the crash, has added the school system, bus contractor Fawver Buses and Fawver driver Joe Gallman — who was driving the bus the three victims rode — to the lawsuit, which was initially filed last month in Knox County Circuit Court…Davenport, who died June 1 of apparent “natural causes,” was exchanging texts with a convicted prostitute at the moment of the crash when he should have been watching the road, police determined.

Police: Texting Cause of Fatal Tenn. School Bus Crash
Source: Jeanette Reveles, School Transportation News, June 5, 2015

The Knoxville (Tennessee) Police Department said in a statement Friday that a school bus crash last December that killed two students and teacher’s aide from Knox County Schools was caused by text messaging. “The results of the investigation have shown that the driver of bus #44, Mr. Davenport, was driving while distracted due to sending and receiving text messages,” the statement said. According to police, driver James Davenport sent and received multiple messages in the moments prior to the crash….James McIntyre, superintendent of Knox County Schools, said at a press conference that he was “outraged” to find out the cause of the accident, adding that the driver acted with “negligence, selfishness and stupidity.” McIntyre commented that the district’s transportation contracts are under review pending the results of the final investigation . He did not rule out potentially doing away with the contracts….

School bus driver involved in 2014 KCS crash dies
Source: WBIR, June 3, 2015

James Davenport, one of the bus drivers involved in the December 2014 Knox County school bus crash that killed two young students and a teacher’s aide, died Monday night. The Knox County Sheriff’s Office told WBIR 10News that authorities were called to his Maynardville Pike home where he lived with his mother at 8:47 p.m. Officials said at this point his cause of death is listed as a “natural death.”…

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SCA makes bus outsourcing official

Source: Sarah DeSantis, The News-Item, July 28, 2015

Southern Columbia Area School District has outsourced its transportation services, a move that district personnel said will save district taxpayers at least $830,000 over five years. During a special meeting Monday, the board voted unanimously to furlough 24 bus drivers effective July 31 and enter into a five-year contract for transportation services with Fullington School Bus LLC, of Clearfield, the following day. …. Berzes said the drivers would make comparable salaries at his company, though the wages are calculated differently with more weight on bonuses for behaviors like retention instead of flat hourly rates. …. Board member Charles Porter said an agreement with the drivers’ union, AFSCME, will allow members to “bump” for positions.

Judge: Florida Charter School Does Not Have to Bus Students

Source: School Transportation News, July 15, 2015

The law in Florida (and many other states) says that students living at least two miles from their assigned school are eligible for bus service. This was the basis for a legal battle between Renaissance Charter School in Tradition, Florida, and the St. Lucie County School Board. The school board argued that the charter school was violating Florida law and the charter school contract by not providing transportation for these students. The school argued that the school board did not have the legislative authority to make the school provide transportation….Renaissance Charter School’s transportation policy spells out that although the school does not provide busing, it is working on putting together parent carpools, and that it provides “transportation or an equivalent reimbursement” for students that fall into the following categories: students that do not otherwise have access to other educational facilities; students exposed to dangerous walking conditions to or from school; students with transportation needs in their IEP; students who are pregnant, as well as students, parents and/or their children if there is a teenage parent program at the school. The board rejected this policy, arguing that not providing regular transportation to all students is a barrier to educational access.

Outsourcing/Privatizing School Transportation Services

Source: Virginia School Boards Association

SUMMARY:
Looking to streamline operations and reduce costs, some school divisions explore the possibility of
outsourcing school transportation services. The private companies hoping to secure transportation
contracts state that they can contain or reduce costs while providing high-quality transportation services. While outsourcing may seem like a good option, especially when being described by a vendor, it does not guarantee lower costs or more effective operations. For school leaders examining privatization of school transportation services, it is recommended that the following resources be reviewed carefully to become more aware of the pitfalls and issues encountered by other divisions across the country.

‘Exhausted’ school bus driver who killed woman in SE Portland crosswalk spurs $8.7 million suit

Source: Aimee Green, Oregonian, July 6, 2015

The estate of a 43-year-old woman fatally run over in a crosswalk by a school bus filed an $8.7 million lawsuit Monday against the First Student bus company and the West Linn-Wilsonville School District. The lawsuit claims that the bus driver was exhausted and that contributed to the deadly Southeast Portland crash. … The suit claims that the school bus “suddenly and without warning” pulled forward and made a right turn into the couple, according to the suit. …Renee Bates died about an hour after the early afternoon crash, according to the suit. The bus hit Shawn Bates with a “glancing blow,” but he was able to stay by his wife’s side in the ambulance and the hospital until she died, the suit states. … Shawn Bates died about four months later from cancer, according to the suit. The couple’s only child, then 11, was orphaned. The suit seeks damages for the sole beneficiary of the estate, the couple’s son, who is now almost 13. In addition to First Student and the school district, which had hired the bus company, the suit lists driver Billie Jean Neel as a defendant. Neel lived in Gladstone and was 55 at the time of the crash. Neel was convicted of careless driving, a violation. As part of a plea agreement, she was ordered to complete a high-risk driving course and 100 hours of community service. …
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Woman is struck and injured by school bus in Southeast Portland
Source: Stuart Tomlinson, Oregonian, July 9, 2013

A woman was struck and injured by a school bus in Southeast Portland Tuesday. Sgt. Pete Simpson, spokesman for the Portland Police Bureau, said the woman and her husband were crossing from the Northwest corner of the intersection of Southeast 148th Avenue and Division when the school bus ran into them at around 1:08 p.m. The woman suffered traumatic injuries and was taken to a Portland hospital for treatment; her husband was also struck by the bus, but did not require medical treatment, Simpson said. …

School official claims auto repair shop overcharged MCSD

Source: WRBL, July 1, 2015

Columbus Police say they are conducting an investigation to see if fraud was committed after someone from the school district contacted them. The investigation involves allegations that an auto repair shop overcharged the Muscogee County School District by more than $12,000. News 3’s Sarah Panko talked to the Columbus lawyer who says he brought these concerns to the school district months ago. Last August, Charlie Miller says his client came to him with concerns over a school bus air conditioning bid with the school district. …. Millers goes on to say that he filed a request for invoices and found that Moseley Auto Repair billed the district for more than the 12% parts mark-up that they agreed on in the bid. In some cases, Miller says he saw a mark-up of more than 800% on one item. ….