Advantages of Using a Contractor
- Private contractors meet or exceed state and federal school bus licensing, safety and training standards
- Private bus companies maintain new fleets, adhere to strict maintenance standards and make sure their buses are equipped with the latest safety features
- School districts can upgrade or completely replace aged fleets by hiring a contractor with no capital investment
- Private contractors are leaders in safety and training programs and serve as the primary source of the latest education and training initiatives for school districts and contractors
- Drivers are the key to bus safety – during transitions from school district to contractor-provided fleets contractors will hire many of the district drivers
- School districts all across the country save billions of dollars every year by utilizing school bus contractors for their busing needs
- NYS contractors help save New York schools and taxpayers millions of dollars every year – these savings allow schools to reinvest in their programs, employees and schools
- In difficult economic times, the savings realized by school districts can help avoid teacher layoffs and cancellation of important programs
- It is easier for school districts to plan and budget because the contractor is responsible for managing economic fluctuations, such as spikes in gas prices
- Hiring a contractor allows school districts to benefit financially from the contractor’s economies of scale that come with providing nothing but bus transportation services
- Unlike school districts, contractors can easily shift resources to accommodate demand, such as a new charter school
- In many cases contractor-provided school transportation services cost upwards of 20 percent less than district-run operations
- In addition to savings, some districts actually witness and increase in revenue because contractors will often rent the existing facility or pay property taxes on new facilities
- A study of the 66 largest urban school districts found that the median annual cost of an urban district-operated bus is nearly $69,000 where contracted buses come in at $55,000 per bus – a savings of $14,000 per bus or over 20 percent
- The cost of district-operated buses tends to be underreported due to the difficulty in capturing capital costs — click here for acopy of our cost savings analysis tool
- Districts maintain control of the busing services through a detailed RFP and contract process which demands transparency, accountability, and the highest standards
- Hiring a contractor can eliminate labor management issues – with over 35,000 union and non-union employees statewide – the industry prides itself on ensuring the workforce is professional and treated fairly
- Districts are freed from management headaches like absenteeism, drug testing and insubordination
- Contractors work closely with school districts, parents and unions to ensure the transition from school district-provided to contractor-provided busing services is seamless
- The Council of Great City Schools released a multiyear study that highlighted best practices in school operations — contractors scored very well by providing quality bus services for less money
- School districts all across the state are extremely satisfied with contractor-provided school transportation services
- Contracting student transportation services frees school districts from budget constraints and lengthy bus replacement schedules
- Contractors support school initiatives through scholarships, educational and safety programs
Local Boards in Control:
One of the most persistent and least true of the many myths about contracting of support services is that the school board loses control over the service when it outsources to a private company. The fact is that absent state interference, the board can have as much or as little control as it wants over contracted service; it’s the board’s choice. It all depends on the way the contract is structured.
Want to make sure drivers maintain current wages and benefits? Put it in the contract. Want to review all new hires? Put it in the contract. Want a zerotolerance policy? Put it in the contract. Want the buses washed every day? Put it in the contract. Want to field all the parent calls? Put it in the contract.
In reality, most school officials don’t want daily involvement in contracted transportation; one of the reasons they outsource is to shift the operational responsibilities to professionals so that they can concentrate on their primary mission. But those who want it can easily have it — all they have to do is put it in the contract so that both parties understand from the start what the board’s expectations are.
It’s important to note, however, that the most successful board-contractor relationships are built less on contract language than on mutual respect. The contractor respects the school board’s responsibility for policy, standards, and oversight and the board respects the contractor’s responsibility for operational performance. Each understands the importance of clear and regular communication, and each recognizes that they have a common goal: to deliver children to and from school safely and on time every day. How that is accomplished is very much a matter of local control, whether or not the service is contracted.
NYSBCA can provide sample contracts or help individual districts structure their contracts so that both parties benefit. We can also provide sample RFPs or help districts design bid notices and RFPS that will attract a maximum number of bidders.