Dear District 15 Parents and Community Members,
The recent and unexpected disclosure that the District 15 school board is taking bids to outsource its drivers and bus aides has left many in our community feeling stressed, upset and even victimized.
I certainly feel that way. I know many of you do, too.
Our drivers and aides live here, work here and devote their working lives to the students. We know that no private company in the world will ever match the safe and reliable service our employees bring to the children every day. They can't do it. They won't do it.
Bid proposals submitted by private for-profit companies were received by the District on January 10. Those proposals will be reviewed at the Wednesday, January 16 school board meeting.
We are asking all concerned citizens, their families, and friends to come to the next District 15 Board meeting at 7 p.m. on January 16, at Sundling Jr. High School (located at 1100 N. Smith St. in Palatine) to show the Board that we care about the children, that we care about our employees, that our unemployment will hurt everyone, and that the best and safest drivers in the world already work right here in District 15.
At this meeting, bus drivers (myself included) and transportation aides will share their stories about their experiences working for private companies.
For example: I have driven a school bus for nearly 11 years, with almost 7 of those years in our district. Prior to that, I worked with First Student. During my time working there, it was not uncommon for First Student to bus-in drivers from the South side of Chicago to cover routes in my area, which included Long Grove, Buffalo Grove, Vernon Hills, Lincolnshire, Deerfield and Highland Park.
This is just one example of the many personal accounts you will hear. At the previous meeting, a board member referred to these stories as "scare tactics". However, how can these stories be termed as such if they are true, actual events?
At the board meeting, you will also hear stories from parents about positive, personal experiences with our dedicated drivers and aides. This is where we need your help.
As representatives of your schools and concerned parents, we urge you to get involved and show your support. Here's how you can help.
1. Attend the board meeting at Sundling Jr. High School. Please share with the Board any and all concerns you have should the outsourcing occur and how it will negatively impact your children and community.
2. Reach out to your friends, neighbors, fellow parents and school community to do the same.
3. If you cannot attend the meeting in person, please call and/or write to the Board Members with your thoughts and concerns. Here is the link:
4. Sign the petition to the school board and encourage other concerned citizens to sign. Here is the link:
5. Visit our website for more information. www.district15drivers.org
6. Visit our Facebook page "District 15 Transportation Union" and share our page with friends, neighbors, parents, etc.
We as a community can come together to prevent our children from becoming yet another horror story that you hear about so often in the media when private companies take on the task of getting your children to and from school.
Now is the time to get involved. As other school districts have found out the hard way:
• Once a community outsources its Transportation Department, it will never get it back.
• Once a community outsources its Transportation Department, the problems don’t go away….but the community does lose its ability to locally manage those problems.
This fight is not over. Our drivers and aides have already made it clear to the school board that nothing is more important to us than our jobs - and that we are willing to work with the board to find cost savings and preserve our department.
But we can't do it without each of you. Please come to the school board meeting on Wednesday, January 16 at 7 p.m. at Sundling JHS.
Parent, Resident and Bus Driver of District 15
Editor's note: Letters to the Editor are presented as they are originally submitted by our readers. Palatine Patch neither agrees nor disagrees with the opinions presented.