OGDEN, Iowa — For the first time in approximately three decades, Ogden Community Schools is set to run its transportation department and school buses — the district took over the service from its longtime contractor, Stumbo Transportation, on July 1.

Earlier this year, Doug Stumbo, owner of the school bus company, approached district officials to notify them of his plan to retire, according to Ogden Superintendent of Schools Bill Roederer.

“In the state of Iowa, if a private company is contracted with a school district, once they decide that they’re not going to provide services anymore, the school district has the first opportunity to take over the transportation system,” Roederer told SBF in an interview, adding that once he and other administrators knew of Stumbo’s impending retirement, they discussed their options for several months.

In April, the Ogden Community Schools board approved the purchase of Stumbo Transportation at a cost to the district of $360,300. This includes the commercial building, purchased from the Physical Plant & Levy Fund for $177,000, and a fleet of 10 buses, which were purchased through an equipment loan of $183,300.

Roederer said there were several reasons why the school board decided to purchase the company.

“We think that over the long run, it might save the district some money if we can run the transportation operation. It wasn’t the main reason, but it factored into the decision. Also, in Iowa, there aren’t a lot of private companies out there that contract with school districts,” he explained.

At this point, Roederer does not have an estimate of what the savings will be due to various expenses that may fluctuate and come up, such as the cost of fuel, maintenance costs and possible vehicle purchases. However, one area in which he’s certain that he’ll see some cost savings is with insurance.

“When we had our contract with Doug, it included insurance and certain other things that he had to buy on his own, and he would pass that insurance cost onto us through the contract,” Roederer said. “Under our insurance, a lot is covered under a blanket policy that we have, so our insurance isn’t nearly as much as what Doug had to pay as an individual for insurance.”

The school bus drivers who worked for Stumbo Transportation will work for the district.

“One of the reasons we had such a great relationship with Stumbo Transportation is because of the drivers, so we wanted them to carry over. We’re looking forward to the opportunity of running our own transportation system, and we’re happy for Doug, but we could have continued with him for many more years. We’ve thoroughly enjoyed working with him and have been appreciative of the service he’s provided for the district,” Roederer said.

As SBF reported in its profile of Stumbo Transportation in Great Fleets Across America 2010, Doug Stumbo was the sole school bus technician for the company.

Roederer said district officials kept this in mind when they were looking for a transportation director, and they have hired a gentleman named Dennis Good who, in addition to transportation-related duties for the district, will perform a lot of the bus maintenance.

Good has run a family-owned trucking business in Ogden for many years. Roederer said that he and other Ogden Community Schools personnel are looking forward to working with Good in making the transition to a district-run pupil transportation operation due to his experience and knowledge in the transportation business.

“Doug said he will be there for us if we need some consultation for the first few months,” Roederer added.