Andover Public Schools is exploring the possibility of contracting student transportation services starting in the 2016-17 school year and covering multiple years (5). Transportation has been a discussion in our district for the past two years. As we continue to evaluate and improve service to our patrons, here are the five primary goals of looking into contracting our transportation service:
- Achieve a seamless transition from District to contracted services
- Allow current District transportation staff every opportunity to become Contractor employees
- Make a fiscally responsible decision; cost is very important, but not the sole factor
- Maintain or exceed safety and quality of current operation
- Attain cost savings, including but not limited to, sharing costs with surrounding Districts through the same contractor.
Due to State of Kansas funding reductions in education we face challenges in maintaining our service:
- We have not purchased buses in 3 years. Although our buses are “compliant” by all state laws concerning “age of buses,” we need to allocate considerable money towards new purchases. Contractors would replenish the bus fleet over a 3-5 year period. If we attempted to replace buses ourselves, it would cost around $3.85 million.
- The district pay scale for drivers is in the middle of the pack as compared to the area districts, with the exception of Wichita. They pay $3/hour more than we do. We have a shortage of drivers and aren’t able to give “just bus drivers” $3-5/hour more, without changing the entire classified wage scale (custodians, maintenance, admin. assistants, paras, etc.). This is not possible under the current Andover Public Schools budget. Contractors could come in with a substantial increase in wages, thus eliminating any shortages.
- Since contractors only deal with transportation, they tend to be much more streamlined/cost-effective than districts can operate. They offer many more safety related items (GPS, all buses have cameras, electronic pre-post trip programs) than we can afford on our own. The level of efficiency and safety will only increase.
The Board of Education will hear an update and proposal on transportation next steps at the Jan. 11, 2016 meeting.
If you have questions about this process or anything regarding transportation, please contact the District Office.