5 Private Companies Submit Bids to Take Over Bay County's School Buses

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One of five companies could soon take over Bay County's school buses. A & S Transportation Inc., Durham School Services, Student Transportation of America, Go-Ahead North America, and First Student Inc., all responded to the school district's request for proposal or R.F.P. to privatize its transportation services.

"If you were to do it, what would you do differently to do it better, more efficiently, and cheaper?" asked Bay County School District Chief Financial Officer Jess Snyder.

Last year the district found itself in a similar situation trying to save money. The main focus then was on contracting out its cafeterias. And despite significant opposition, the school board hired Chartwells Inc. Now seven months into the contract, Chartwells seems to be living up to its promise of at least $750,000 in savings each year.

"We are well on track to provide the guarantee to the district," Chartwells District Manager Julio Narvaez told NewsChannel 7's Bryan Anderson.

And based on those five bids, it appears the school district could also save a lot of money hiring a private company to run their school buses. But since district officials want to retain ownership of the bus fleet itself, they said that may cut into the savings.

Without enough time in 2012 to come up with a recommendation, this time they're taking their time because with aging buses and tragic events like the Midland City, Alabama hostage situation, they said they don't want to make the wrong move.

"As we are trying to improve and renew our fleet, bring it up, this is a good time to put in the GPS, more cameras, more elements for safety and security of the children," Snyder said.

School District officials are meeting at 10:00 a.m. Thursday at the school district's headquarters for a workshop discussing transportation privatization. The district said it plans to narrow the field to three candidates next week.

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