C-A board considers contracting bus drivers

FLINT TWP. — Contracting with First Student, a private provider of school bus transportation, is being considered by the Carman- Ainsworth board of education.

Like many districts faced with an ongoing struggle to hire its own bus drivers, the board posted a Request for Proposals in October to contract for specific Unfilled Transportation Runs. First Student submitted a bid.

At its November 17 meeting, the school board tabled action on the proposal, pending a final contract from First Student, said Superintendent Steve Tunnicliff.

“Our Request for Proposals was to fill six morning and six afternoon runs, as well as one afternoon run that is specific to Carman-Ainsworth High School after-school programming,” he said.

Tunnicliff stressed that contracting for these runs will not reduce any of the district’s current bus drivers. It would however reduce reliance on substitute drivers for normal transportation runs.

The contract, if approved, applies only to the remainder of the 2015- 16 school year.

“We do not currently have plans for contracting out our entire transportation department,” Tunnicliff stressed, “In fact, we just approved the purchase of three more busses (totaling six purchased in the last three years), in order to maintain a strong transportation fleet.”

Most districts in Genesee County are having significant difficulty filling vacancies for bus drivers and substitutes, Tunnicliff said.

The issue has been exacerbated at Carman-Ainsworth by multiple retirements since the start of the school year, which has made service heavily reliant on substitute drivers to complete normal runs. Some substitutes do not want to work everyday, so it is not prudent to rely on them on a full-time basis, Tunnicliff said.

“As we move towards the winter months and the normal illnesses that occur, along with the potential for additional retirements later this year, we know that we need to consider a reliable solution for the remainder of the school year that will cover all normal runs while maintaining a substitute pool that can cover unexpected absences,” he said.

But the search for new employees goes on.

Applications for open positions are posted on the Genesee Intermediate School District web site at http:// www.applitrack.com/gcaps/onlineapp/jobpostings/view.asp?internaltransferform. Url=&choosedistrict=true& applitrackclient=721&category=Transportation

C-A has listings for full and part-time, regular and substitute drivers.

As of December 1 the GISD Mid-Michigan Area Public Schools Consortium has postings for 19 bus drivers, one bus mechanic, two transportation aides and a substitute transportation custodian.

Davison, Fenton, Clio and Flushing, Beecher, Bentley and Mt. Morris are among districts in Genesee County also looking to hire bus drivers.

First Student is contracted to provide all transportation services for the Flint School District, Tunnicliff he said, adding that he thinks Linden, Lake Fenton and Westwood Heights also use First Student.

First Student bills itself as the leading school transportation provider in North America, “moving more passengers per day than all U.S. airlines combined.”

Contracted in 39 states and eight Canadian provinces, it handles six million student journeys per day, employs 57.000 people and works with 1,300 school districts, according to a FAQ sheet on its web site.

To learn more about First Student, visit its web site at www.firststudentinc.com/

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