Should Bay District Schools Privatize Transportation Services?

By: Mark Vaughn Email
By: Mark Vaughn Email

PANAMA CITY, FL- Bay District Schools faces millions in state budget cuts, but the possibility of privatizing transportation services is meeting some opposition.

In an attempt to see if private companies can run the districts transportation department for less money the district has put out request proposals. But one man on the committee tasked with cutting district costs says it's a bad idea.

Bay District Schools is facing a 8 to 10 million dollar budget cut next year.

Superintendent Bill Husfelt said, "...we're going to have to close that gap. We've been doing this for the last three and a half year and we're just going to have to keep finding areas to cut."

The school district is looking at cutting costs by contracting it transportation system to a private firm.

"Just trying to see if it would be cost effective, if it would save us money, how we would take care of the employees, and how it all would work out," added Husfelt.

Rickey Rivers sat on a school board cost cutting committee and believes the district has already decided to sell off its buses and contract with a company to run the system.

"The RFP, request for proposal, don't get fooled by the title, that is the contract. Do not be fooled by that," River said.

Rivers says it would be a mistake to sell all the districts buses as part of the deal.

"That money that we receive for the buses isn't going to be used for operational costs. It's going to be used for the capital budget. The capital budget is for the superintendent and the school board to hire more independent contractors to do works around the school. So that money is not going to benefit the operations of Bay District Schools."

Husfelt says nothing has been decided and won't be without public discussion.

"This is just a step to collect more information, there's been no decision made," added Husfelt. "But I'll tell you very candidly, we've got find 8 to 10 million dollars. We just don't have that laying around."

Rivers is leading a public forum on the issue, Thursday April 12th at 6 p.m. At the Glenwood Community Center.

The R.F.P's will be reviewed starting April 13th, and a decision should be made by the school board by the first week of May.

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  • by Mack Location: Panama city beach Fl. on May 1, 2012 at 02:27 AM
    I feel this is wrong in every way I have looked at the company's they are looking at and all I see is problems Late buses cost over runs and If the Board don,t like they will not have buses to run Please everyone look at this and tell the Board NO.
  • by Doris Location: transportation on Apr 30, 2012 at 11:24 AM
    Where do you think you are going to get drivers, we have a hard enough time now getting people to drive a bus. They come and go so fast, the good ones always are there so you are right you get what you pay for and believe me you better keep what you got.
  • by Robin Miller Location: United States on Apr 13, 2012 at 07:12 PM
    Start the cutting by looking at the paychecks of the people high up. Make children go to their zoned schools. Oh wait, they closed West Bay to save money also. People need to start playing on the same team. Our Children deserve reliable transportation and drivers that care about them. If we would stop transporting these children into town and to the beach we would save a lot of money in fuel. The kids that go to work places in the middle of the day, they should get their own transportation. We did. Our job should be to transport the children to their zoned schools. If Parents want their children at a different school they can transport them. We follow the "No Child Left Behind" law but privatizing is going to leave them behind if a offer comes along for the company that will make them more money. This whole thing is sickening. Look at other counties and States with privatization. I read more bad than good. I do not get how some people can sleep at night. I'm glad I can. Put it out to the public. Put it on the front page of the news paper. Send out letters to all the registered children on the buses. Let the public have a say about how they feel.
  • by Nana Location: Panama City on Apr 13, 2012 at 11:00 AM
    Parents start calling the Board Members and ask questions now before its to late, attend the next meeting on the 24th and find out about the privatizing, its not worth the expense to give up your districts buses.
  • by Dawn Location: West Bay on Apr 13, 2012 at 04:38 AM
    The citizens are not being told the whole story. Why is the board meeting being held at 1 when most are at work. If you sell them our buses for 3 mill, and they go bankrupt, we start over at 20 mill. WE have to pay the gas for a private company. They will lease our transportation hub WE paid for at $1 per year. Food Service returned $200000 to the district, where is that money? Who will train these drivers with our hundreds of special needs kids? One lawsuit and that's it. What kind of E/O policy do they carry. The truth needs to be told. Not behind closed doors. In public. We have sunshine laws.
  • by Cliff Location: Panama City on Apr 11, 2012 at 01:22 PM
    Dave: It's the reason our whole country is going broke. Government entities are so full of wasteful spending. People are grandfathered into jobs and they can't be fired because they are protected by the union. So you end up with either too many people for the work required or unfit people (or both) and a ballooned pension program that the district has to pay into. Private companies can run businesses efficiently and save money. It's how THEY make money! Win-win if you ask me, and if you don't like the job they're doing, try someone else. Like one of the other posters said, it really can't be done any worse than it's being done right now so why not give a private company a shot?
    • reply
      by Robin Miller on Apr 13, 2012 at 07:19 PM in reply to Cliff
      Once they sell the fleet of buses how will Bay County ever get more. They never will. If you have a child that rides buses you are in for a rude awakening if they privatize. Look at other Counties in Florida that privatized. Read some of the horror stories. What training will the drivers have? What kind of background checks will they go through? Will they be fingerprinted? I care who drives my children and right now they have drivers who REALLY CARE about the children and the parents. Oh and if they are going to privatize why does Bay County have to pay for the fuel??????
  • by Dave Location: pcb on Apr 10, 2012 at 05:03 PM
    How can a ,"not for profit "service be more expensive that a ,"for profit" one? Charging a fee to ride might work!
  • by Robin Location: Panama City on Apr 10, 2012 at 02:14 PM
    They would not have this issue if they would stop providing free lunch during the summer. I am having a hard enough time feeding my own family and through my taxes I now feed kids in the summer. They get enough EBT from me. Stop claiming all of this is FOR THE CHILDREN. Tell the truth.
  • by Art Location: Pc on Apr 10, 2012 at 11:35 AM
    As for the budget, why do we pay a salary to our board members. I have served on many different committees and boards and they have always been volunteer. If the students and education is so important to these individuals, why can they not just volunteer their time. Many of these board members have other paid occupations. Additionally, why not have other positions in school manned by volunteers. There are schools that require parental volunteer hours, why can't other schools. Additionally can we stop having our administrators taking 40% to 50% of a grants and budgets to justify their existance.
  • by Jason Location: pc on Apr 10, 2012 at 09:28 AM
    So much talk and specualtion from so many who seem to know so little. The request for proposal is nothing more than that, regardless of what anyone specualtes about it. A private contractor certainly can't do much worse than what we have now. Children left on buses by themselves, dropped off at the wrong places, speeding, running red lights, etc.. While I'm certain there are some very consientious folks working there now, there is definitely room for improvement. And if contracting the service out saves money and improves service, then lets do it. Whatever the ultimate outcome, I hope we put the needs of the children first.
    • reply
      by Ed on Apr 10, 2012 at 06:29 PM in reply to Jason
      Exactly right Jason. The RFP still has to be voted on and at least a 3 to 2 vote to pass. If the present system that is in place is supposed to be so great, then why are they in such fear of looking at a Request For Proposal? If some one else can do the job as good or better for less money then the board has a responsibility to spend the taxpayer's money in best interest of the people. The focus should be on the students and their education, not in the unions or those they pay the dues to the unions to be protected in their jobs. If they are the best in value and quality, then they should not fear the RFP inquiry. The business of a school district should always be the students first, their educationfirst. That is why we pay taxes. If we can keep teachers but have to privat
      • reply
        by Lisa on Apr 12, 2012 at 08:29 PM in reply to Ed
        I'm going to tell you that your kids will not be in good hands with private contractor & if your child do something wrong on the bus they will be kick off the bus then it will be up to parents get them back & from school.Better yet private contractor is going to charge parents to put there kids on the bus.I hope you have pocket full money to let your kids ride bus with this contractor.At least now they ride bus free.
    • reply
      by Robin Miller on Apr 13, 2012 at 07:26 PM in reply to Jason
      Read in the Daytona Florida paper about how the children didn't have a ride to school because the private company made more money doing shuttles to the race track. No one is perfect as we all know. They can do a lot worse than what we have now. You say give it a try but once the county sells the fleet of buses they will never be able to afford to buy more. Please, think of the children is right.
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