MOUNT PROSPECT, Ill. — The local school board has voted to privatize its transportation service in the wake of the DUI arrest of one of its school bus drivers.
Before the vote in mid-July, Dr. Elaine Aumiller, superintendent of Mount Prospect School District 57, provided a rationale for recommending the move in an eight-page memo to board members.
“While we could continue to try to offer this service in-house, the information and circumstances of our situation clearly support taking a different direction,” Aumiller said. “Our district will be better positioned if we move toward outsourcing.”
District bus driver Betty Burden was arrested on March 9. Police said that she was nearly three times the legal alcohol limit while dropping off students. The Chicago Tribune reported that Burden and her supervisor were fired.
“Outsourcing has been a topic of conversation for some time, and the events of this year led us to investigate it sooner than expected,” Aumiller said. “Please know that my recommendation, first and foremost, protects the safety of the children and the district. Beyond this, it seeks to provide a high quality service and ensures fiscal responsibility that will help the solvency of our district as we continue to manage in a changing financial environment.”
After the March incident, Mount Prospect School District had an outside firm conduct a formal transportation audit. Aumiller said that the audit revealed weaknesses in its program in staffing, professional training, compliance with federal and state regulations, and general operation.
The audit recommended that the district begin the request for proposal process to outsource transportation “primarily based on the fact it did not believe that the district had the capacity, time or resources to scale up the program to an acceptable level by the start of the 2010-2011 school year.”
A cost comparison showed that over the first two years of the contract, as the district meets outstanding financial obligations, it will save about $30,000 to $40,000 per year. After that, it is estimated that the savings will be $128,500 per year.
The district will contract with Cook-Illinois Corp. subsidiary Grand Prairie Transit.
To read Aumiller’s memo on outsourcing, click here.