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UPDATED: Parents Concerned Over District 15 Possible Busing Privitization

District 15 issued a press release in response to parent concerns over whether potential cost savings are worth the perceived threats to safety and well-being. A petition has been started on Change.org to fight against the possibility.

UPDATED: Thursday, Dec. 19 9:15 a.m.

District 15 issued a press release late Thursday to clarify how the district will move forward in regards to the possiblity of outsourcing bus services. 

The release stated that due to significant reductions in state reimbursements for transportation, a consultant was utilized to determine what cost savings would be. There currently is a negotiated contract between the school district and the District 15 Transportation Union (DTU). 

"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 release stated. 

In addition to previously stated concerns, Camille Burner, a D15 parent, reached out to Palatine Patch and expressed fears that salaries would be lowered for employees if bus services were privatized - and that move could attract less qualified individuals unable to find other work. 

Superintendent Scott Thompson conceded lower salaries are a possibility, but after consulting with other schools districts, said services have apparently not been affected. 

"My colleagues have been very happy with the services, and there were no complaints outside of ordinary parent complaints," Thompson said. 

Burner suggested trying to trim the cost of busing children, by transporting them to schools closer to where they live.

"It’s become very complicated on where children attend schools, there have been a lot of conversations; it would require redistricting, and moving kids around to get them to a closer school, but we couldn’t house all students at the schools they live nearest to," Thompson said. 

A timeline also was provided by the school district in regards to how the process will move forward:

  • Bids received and preliminarily reviewed (January 10)
  • Bids shared with the Board (January 16)
  • Discussions/negotiations with the DTU (late January-March)
  • Bids analyzed and discussed at Board meeting (February 13)
  • Public hearing on transportation (regular Board meeting in either March or April)

District officials stressed no decisions have been made, and that they are, "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," the release stated. 

Concerned parents have started an online petition at Change.org to campaign against the potential proposal. That petition can be found here

Earlier:

A number of District 15 parents are balking at the school board's consideration of bidding out bus services to private companies. 

The issue was presented at Wednesday's school board meeting and included on the agenda under the Superintendent's Report at Wednesday's meeting was "Bid for Transportation Services." 

One parent, who wishes to remain anonymous, expressed a number of concerns: 

"Some things to consider, as a parent, are: The current bus drivers are randomly tested for drug and alcohol use, pass the most stringent of tests, are of the highest quality of people, and overwhelmingly, most live within the community," the parent stated.

"The same cannot be said for outside companies, who hire inferior employees cheaply, and recruit drivers from blight filled areas," the parent said.

Another parent, who also wishes to remain anonymous, brought up the possiblity of District 15 bus drivers, who are school district employees, losing their jobs if the board ultimately decides to go that way.

Superintendent Scott Thompson said the entire issue is only in the early stages, and the board is interested in learning what the cost savings would be. 

"If we were to decide to hire private companies for bus services, the majority of our current drivers would likely begin working for whomever we would hire," Thompson said. 

Within the Board of Education packet materials for Wednesday's meeting, Thompson stated, "Safety and service will remain at the current levels whether or not the district contracts for transportation services."

He added that neighboring school districts who have used private companies have not seen safety or service diminished in any way. 

In regards to termination of current District 15 employees who provide transportation services, Thompson stated as part of any contract with a private company, the firm chosen would be required to offer employment to current D15 employees. 

A Request for Proposal (RFP) was sent out on Wednesday, December 12 to private companies for bid requests, and Thompson stated in the board packet a required public hearing on the issue would be held in late March, 2013. 

D15parentanddriver January 11, 2013 at 03:28 PM
Cheryl, this is exactly what the community needs to hear at the Jan 16 board meeting. Please consider attending and speaking to the board regarding your experiences with a private company. At last months meeting a board member referred to these types of situations as "scare tactics" but if they are true and actual facts, it is just that....true and actual facts.
LS January 11, 2013 at 06:36 PM
The address for the survey can be found below: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/LateStartEarlyRelease The address for the petition can be found below: http://www.change.org/petitions/ccsd15-school-board-listen-to-constituents-late-arrival-early-dismissal-schedule-enrichment-time-end-of-the-day-friday-no-lost-instruction-time
sharon suchowski January 12, 2013 at 04:08 AM
I have worked for companies before that worked well at the beginning.The moral was good and after drastic changes the moral of the company changed. That is one of my biggest concerns. At present we have a team of drivers that look out for each other. I consistantly hear general concern for each other ,as well as, the students. Over the past few months I have taken the opportunity to speak to different drivers who work for outsource companies. The first comment I hear is pay is terrible,moral is bad. I have asked about health ins and have been told they offer it ,however it is not affordable. The financial issue will cause drivers to leave. Which is ashame. I have never worked for a company that I love as much as this one . I look forward to work each day . I honestly love driving the children and talking to the parents. The idea that this could be my last year is incredibly sad. I honestly hope you will talk with the union and work things out. They have made it clear they are willing to work with you.I think you should give them that chance.
sharon suchowski January 12, 2013 at 10:51 AM
My hope is that the board will not only talk to communities that outsource . They will talk to ones that tried it and went back. Over the past couple of months I have had the opportunity to talk to drivers that work for outsource companies. The comments about current positions and benefits is incorrect . Insurance is made available in some cases ,however it is not affordable. There would be a substantial pay cut. The simple truth is many drivers will have to move on simply because they will not be able to live. It saddens me to think this may be my last year here. I absolutely love working for this company. I look forward to going to work each day . There is a general concern for other drivers and the students that is beyond words . The union has made it clear to the board that they are willing to work with them . I believe the BOE should give them that opportunity
Jude Bramer February 21, 2013 at 12:06 AM
LS: you are posting about a different issue. The survey and petition you link to are dealing with the potential "late-start/early-out" question. The petition against outsourcing the bus drivers is here: https://www.change.org/petitions/ccsd15-school-board-do-not-outsource-the-district-15-transportation-department

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