Last night, at the AAPS budget meeting, I went to a transportation breakout session. According to what I heard, the administration set a budget target of savings from transportation costs of approximately $1.5 million dollars. The privatization bids netted about $800,000 in savings. AAPS then tried negotiating with the transportation workers, who met the $800,000 savings in a tentative agreement--but the union membership voted the tentative agreement down.
Enter Option 2: Consolidate all transportation services countywide through the WISD. Drivers and aides keep their benefits--including retirement, because they will still be public employees--and the savings are still expected to exceed the $1.5 million dollars. The main savings will come from things like buying gasoline in bulk, buying parts in bulk, routing efficiencies, etcetera. There are still a lot of details to be worked out, and my guess is that eventually there will be some cuts in staffing among mechanics and administrators (although that was not clearly said). Right now, it looks like several districts are "in" (enough to make it a go--mostly from the eastern side of the county at this point) and that it will at least partially start up in the fall. The WISD has hired an "expert" consultant to iron out the details.
So that sounds good, right? I'm just left with a nagging question:
If it's not too good to be true, why didn't we do this five years ago? Think of all the millions we could have saved.
It is too good to be true, and the savings will not be anywhere near the projections.
I guess time will tell. I'm glad the bus drivers will have their jobs, with retirement benefits.