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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