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 Columbus Ohio: Goodbye First Student
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4243 Posts

Posted - 04/24/2013 :  07:31:41 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
It seems Columbus City Schools is firing FS for the second time...only this time, they are buying 300 more CEs and taking over the routes themselves.

Article from the Columbus Dispatch:

Columbus City Schools jumped headfirst into a major expansion of its busing operation last night by essentially firing its sole private contractor and voting to immediately purchase 300 new buses.

The school board voted 5-2 to spend $26.1 million to purchase 300 65-passenger school buses from Rush Truck Centers of Ohio. The board must now issue bonds to pay for the purchase, which will expand the district’s in-house transportation department to 800 buses.

Voting against the purchase were board members Mike Wiles and Hanifah Kambon. Wiles proposed that the district extend private bus vendor First Student’s contract for one year and call upon other local bus companies to help out.

But as has happened in the past, Superintendent Gene Harris warned the board that time was running out on a major decision and said the board needed to act or lose the most cost-effective option on the table.

“One of the options goes away,” Harris warned. “It’s no longer available to us.”

The company will deliver the buses by July 31, leaving a month for them to be approved for service by the State Highway Patrol, she said.

Less than five weeks ago, Harris told the board that First Student’s bid for a new three-year contract would increase the district’s cost by $6 million: from $13 million to more than $19 million a year for busing service.

The firm’s current three-year deal, which called for First Student to supply about 260 buses to transport all private- and charter-school students living in the Columbus school district, ends this summer.

Complaints about the bus service have been numerous during the past three years — and they continued at the board meeting last night. Lezlee Knowles, assistant superintendent of Tree of Life Christian Schools in Columbus, told board members that a driver recently took a young student into a McDonald’s restaurant on Cleveland Avenue and told him to stand outside the restroom while the driver used it, asking the child to not tell anyone.

There also were two bus crashes in the school parking lot and “countless hours” waiting on hold on the phone with First Student to discuss late buses or missing children, Knowles said.

The district hired First Student to save money, “but we lost it all in the court of public opinion,” board member W. Shawna Gibbs said.

The district said it can save $10.6 million over three years by taking the operation in house with union drivers.

Remaining to be seen is whether the district can hire and train the 300-plus drivers it will need by the time school starts in the fall.

“We are definitely going to try our best to do that,” Deputy Superintendent John Stanford said, noting that the district will hold job fairs to recruit drivers and also reach out to First Student’s drivers, who might be losing their jobs with the loss of the Columbus contract.

The district also must find a place to park 300 new buses. It’s in discussions to lease a facility, Stanford said. The facility is large enough that it might allow the district to consolidate its other depots on the site, saving more money.

New Member

5 Posts

Posted - 05/15/2013 :  8:58:00 PM  Show Profile  Visit DrivesBlueBirds's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Wow, there's an undertaking. Good luck to them.
Personally, I work for a contracted company... *ahem*
It's amazing how many different opinions can be had - my district has never been happier, except the little 3 month hiccup with that Laidlaw policy changeover thing - when we became FS.
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Active Member

12 Posts

Posted - 05/17/2013 :  04:52:30 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
This story brings back memories of June 2000, when the Tuscaloosa, AL City Schools showed Laidlaw the gate and sent them packing. A month later 70 new buses were purchased and most of the drivers were tickled pink to be hired by the city. After all, they went from $7.50 an hour with no benefits to $13 and hour with full medical,dental, retirement, and other benefits.

The Bama Bus Guy
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AmTran Fan
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8 Posts

Posted - 06/13/2013 :  2:10:24 PM  Show Profile  Visit AmTran Fan's Homepage  Reply with Quote
I have been an employee of First Student, and I commend Columbus for showing them the door! First Student ruined the american school bus industry when they bought out Ryder, and then Laidlaw. It is a shame that since the non competition clauses First Student signed with Ryder and Laidlaw, that neither of them are back in the industry yet. If they could be convinced to return to the business, First Student would lose everything they had, and be chased back across the pond where they belong! As a child, I rode to school on buses owned by Crabtree-Harmon,
Rustman Bus Company, and then Ryder after they bought out Rustman. I have to honestly say, the buses owned by Rustman and Ryder were the best because they had strict maintenance policies. First Student's policy is to run a bus into the ground, perform minimal maintenance, then put a huge price tag on them when they sell them. They are really bad about the buses placed out of service to be sold. I personally saw some of them sit on the lot for as many as 4 or more years before they removed them. I commend those in Columbus who finally had enough of First Student, and decided to get their own buses again!
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New Member

1 Posts

Posted - 06/14/2013 :  3:25:35 PM  Show Profile  Visit Leapurr10's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Talking on privatized companies can anyone answer this:
I am looking for answers to a legal question on an employment issue. I have contacted numerous state agencies (Michigan)with this question, and having been directed every time with "contact a lawyer".

I work for a public school district, which is starting to implement "school year round", starting July 8, 2013. I and others in my department which are school bus drivers and under contract with the school district, figured that meant we would be driving starting the now "new" school year, which runs from July of this year to June of 2014. The school district is not starting all the grades to begin with only Kdg-4, to start off the new school year, so that limits the amount of drivers, and seniority is the basis under our contract. We also have bus drivers that are coming up the bottom of the ranks that are employed with a privatized consulting firm. This is the way the school district is eliminating drivers benefits, retirement and being able to pay lower wages. My question along with the other drivers involved is that we were told at a meeting that the criteria of what drivers will be chosen to drive are, 1) what our past attendance record was for the past year and, 2) we have to sign papers to be hired by the privatized consulting firm. Now, the second one is where the major issue lies with being legal. I was not laid-off by the school district, so why would I get a job with this privatized company, to do a job I am already doing, for a school district I have been working for the past 27 years? Will this mean that I voluntarily switched employers? When asked this, we were told we would be back to working as employees of the school district in September of 2013. This does not seem "Legal nor Ethical" on the part of the school district. I would have thought, we would have to be laid-off from the employer to be hired by a company the employer has employed. Does this mean if I refuse to sign on with this privatized co., that I am technically laid-off, with employment available in my department under my job description.I am not willing to hire (even temporary, which I do not trust) under another employer who is employed by my employer? And that is another questionable thing, this privatized co. which is a suspicion. All it really looks like is a front for the school district. It does not actually do the hiring or firing, nor supply company equipment for transportation (buses,etc), or have policies and rules under it's management, this is all done by the Superintendent and Manager of Operations in our school district. This privatized consulting co. is not listed with the BBB and so it has no rating, which scares me, cannot find any information on it but the presidents name and the location of the office, which is not local to the school district.

The privatized bus drivers have already been told they are going to work starting July 8th, but the drivers employed by the school district have to fall under the two job criterias listed above. Would like some input if this seems legal and ethical to others, or not? We have a Union also that says they cannot do anything, which is not surprising, as we have a rep down at the teamster hall who is lazy as a coon dog, and does not like to do anything but send out messages of doom and gloom.
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Advanced Member

United States
390 Posts

Posted - 06/23/2013 :  05:51:46 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I agree with what you have been told - contact a lawyer, preferably one with experience in labor law. Good luck!
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