Bay County School District Revisits Transportation Privatization

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You trust them to get your children safely to and from school, and now for the second year in a row Bay County's bus drivers could see some big changes to how they operate. The district is revisiting the possibility of privatizing its transportation department.

"It's deja vu all over again. We sure have been here before," said School Board Member Steve Moss.

District officials managed to privatize food services last year but said they ran out of time with transportation. So the question is will 2013 bring a different outcome?

"I think what makes the privatization of transportation such a complex issue is the costs and assets that are involved," Moss added.

Like with food services, the district said money is the driving force behind this push to privatize. District officials admit Bay County's fleet of buses is among the oldest in the state. Add to that higher than average diesel fuel prices, and the district has gone upwards of a million dollars over its transportation budget in recent years.

Operational Support Services Director Dr. John Haley said a private company could operate more efficiently. The district then would have the option of using the money saved to go toward new buses.

"That is conceivably an option, but I want to reiterate emphatically that this is only an exploration," said Dr. Haley.

"We've got to look at all avenues that we can save money and keep those teachers in the classroom teaching our kids," School Board Chairman Jerry Register told NewsChannel 7.

The deadline for companies to respond to the district's request for proposal, or RFP, is next month. District officials will then have 30 days to make a decision and come up with a proposal for the school board.