FHSD to Bring School Bus Transportation In-House for 2019-20

Posted on 11/16/2018
Students load a school bus

School bus transportation is typically the second biggest expenditure for school districts after salary and benefits. FHSD has used First Student (and its predecessor Laidlaw) to provide student transportation services for the District since 1999. The 2018-19 school year is the final year of the most recent two-year contract extension.

In an effort to identify possible cost savings and ensure the best service, the District determined that it would issue a formal Request for Proposals (RFP) for student transportation services this year rather than negotiate an additional contract extension. The District received proposals from Durham, First Student, and North American Central. All three proposals included a cost increase over the current contract, with the smallest increase an estimated $596,340 more in just the first year of the contract.

After careful analysis of the proposals, and following discussions with other school districts that have recently brought transportation services in-house, the District determined that it was possible to provide a higher level of transportation services and improve the average age of the bus fleet by not contracting out transportation services. FHSD administration made this recommendation to the Board of Education, and the Board voted unanimously to approve the proposal to bring bus transportation in-house at its November Board meeting.

FHSD will now begin the transition process. District administration believes it can accomplish this transition for the amount of the lowest bid, or potentially less. In addition to potential cost savings, Districts that have brought transportation in-house have also generally enjoyed higher levels of customer service, because all of the transportation staff are employees of the District and not a third party contractor.

The first step will be to hire a Director of Transportation Services. This individual will then direct the implementation of the in-house operations. Other important staffing needs that will have to be filled in the near term include additional human resources and payroll positions to support a staff of approximately 250 drivers, routers, aides, and mechanics.

The proposed timeline for implementation of in-house transportation services is modeled after that of other school districts that have made the transition and culminates in a planned “go live” date of July 1, 2019. 

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