BAY CITY, Mich. (WNEM)- One mid-Michigan school district is looking into changing who transports its students every day.
Bay City Public Schools is open for proposals from private companies to take over the multi-million-dollar challenge.
“We are asking different transportation providers to submit a proposal so that we can get an idea of the cost structure for running a transportation department,” said Bay city Public Schools Superintendent Stephen Bigelow.
The district is seeing if private companies would be better at transporting students. They expect next school year’s transportation costs to be just under $3 million.
“We need to do what is best for Bay City Public Schools and the families. That may or may not be continuing on as we have been going. But I certainly want to make sure whatever direction we take, we are continuing to improve our transportation services,” Bigelow said.
Bigelow said their current provider is the district itself, working with a union of drivers. That group can also submit a proposal to keep their contract going, but Bigelow said the district can privatize at any time.
“Does that mean that we are going to a third-party provider? Absolutely not. But it does provide us an opportunity to see if we are competitive,” Bigelow said.
Bigelow said routes could still be cancelled in the future due to covid variants, injuries, or other issues — and there is still a driver shortage.
“My first thought is, you know, safety of the kids. Are they going to be the only children on this bus if they privatize it or are we thinking, you know, more metro bus, where there’s you know, obviously other adults and other people and other school districts or whatnot on the bus,” said parent Janelle Ruhland.
Ruhland is the mother of a second and a sixth grader in Bay City Public Schools.
“Earlier in the school year, lots of cancellations, it really was a real-life game of whack-a-mole. I’d get one, you know, off on the bus, and now this bus is cancelled, and it’s very hard,” Ruhland said.
She just submitted bus registration for next year, and hopes routes aren’t impacted.
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