First Student Inc. has received approval from the Hamilton County (Tenn.) Board of Education to negotiate for the school system’s transportation service. Currently, the service is provided by a combination of single-bus owner-operators and system-employed drivers. The board believes it can reduce costs by $1 million per year by either contracting with a private company or by absorbing the contract drivers into the school system. Maryland seeks leadership The Maryland School Bus Contractors Association, in collaboration with the Maryland Association of Pupil Transportation, is calling on officials at the Department of Education to find a replacement for retired state director of pupil transportation Donald LaFond, who vacated the position more than a year ago. In the interim, LaFond’s duties have been taken on by other staff members, but the associations say stronger leadership is in order. Georgia fleet goes wireless Verizon Wireless has provided recycled cell phones, hands-free headsets and in-dash battery chargers (valued at more than $61,000) to the DeKalb County (Ga.) Public School System for its 250 special education buses. The phones are the first in a series of donations planned by Verizon to metro area schools over the next several years. DeKalb County drivers travel more miles and longer hours than any other Atlanta-area school system.