Board looks to buses

Published 4:34 pm Friday, February 18, 2005

By By ERIN VER BERKMOES / Niles Daily Star
NILES - Transportation privatization is a possibility for Niles Community Schools.
Niles Community Schools Superintendent Doug Law announced on Thursday the district's board of education is looking at whether the privatization of the districts transportation system would be a wise thing to do.
The board is requesting proposals from six experienced and qualified companies and any others as well and the proposals from those companies are due in mid March. A pre-bid meeting with any of those companies wishing to place a bid is planned for today.
"This is all part of the budget process," Law said. "In these tight financial times, the board is looking at a variety of areas to save money.
The thought of privatizing or a reduction of our transportation system has been on a list of possible things to help save money for about three years.
Right now transportation costs the district about $2 million each year, and if this exploration into privatization makes financial sense then it may be something we would want to do.
Law also said the decision to privatize is something that the board is taking very seriously and for it to be implemented would depend on several factors.
The first of the factors would be the quality of the employees that would provide service to the students of the district.
Research the board has completed shows most of companies like to retain current driving staff, due to their knowledge of the district.
The second factor the board is considering is the level of service that the company would provide to the students.
The third and final factor would be savings to the district.
If the employee costs could be reduced without affecting the service, the board will then investigate privatization as a possibility, he said.
Over the past few years many school districts have been looking into the privatization of support services.
Law said bus drivers in the district have been notified through their MEA union representative that the board is looking into the privatization of the transportation system.
Law said the district is also exploring ways to work with its custodial and maintenance staffs to find ways to save money.
This will result in a savings of $20,000 to $50,000 a year, without adding any additional staff.