DALLAS — A school bus agency here that has faced financial hurdles and controversy in recent years is shutting down after operating for more than a century, NBC DFW reports.
Dallas County voters chose on Nov. 7 to shut down Dallas County Schools (DCS), which, as previously reported, has struggled with reports of financial problems, questionable business dealings, and complaints from school districts on the agency’s performance.
Business deals reportedly have left the agency $130 million in debt and caused an FBI investigation, according to NBC DFW. An analysis that the news source reports was withheld by the former administrators of DCS but was recently released to NBC 5 Investigates suggests that agency officials may have made false statements while trying to market stop-arm cameras to school districts, and that the timing of campaign donations made to some elected DCS officials falls in conjunction with contract awards.
The agency posted a statement on its website after the vote last week, noting that the majority of the 6.5% of Dallas County residents who voted opted to end DCS operations after the 2017-18 school year, and that although staff members are “disheartened with the outcome,” they are thankful for the support they received.
The statement also said that the agency “remains dedicated to serving the students, parents, and districts in and around Dallas County for as long as we have the opportunity to do so. We wish the school districts the best and will do everything we can to assist with a smooth transition.”
Work has begun on phasing out DCS: A dissolution committee replaced the agency’s board of directors on Wednesday. One task will be deciding how to parcel out DCS’s more than 1,000 buses that served area school districts, according to NBC DFW. Some of the agency’s board members expressed concern for bus drivers and other employees due to potential pay and benefit cuts. Gloria Levario, the outgoing board president, told the news source that some employees will probably lose their jobs.
Meanwhile, bus drivers for the agency voiced their concerns at the final meeting held by DCS trustees and interim superintendent Gary Lindsey, The Dallas Morning News reports. DCS drivers also want the dissolution committee, which includes the superintendents of the nine school districts that the agency has served, to assure them that they will not lose pay or benefits or have to reapply for their jobs if a private company takes over transportation, according to the newspaper.
Dallas Independent School District Superintendent Michael Hinojosa has attempted to reassure drivers for his district that they will be paid through the end of the school year and will be needed regardless of what happens, The Dallas Morning News reports.