With schools closed until at least next fall, the Birmingham Schools district is continuing to pay its contracted school bus drivers, despite utilizing only four of the 101 contracted employees.
For at least 10 years, the Birmingham district has outsourced its school bus drivers, custodial services and food services. According to district spokesperson Anne Cron, since the school closures, food service workers, employees of Chartwells Schools Dining Services, have been providing the community with two meals a day. Custodians have continued to work on school sites to clean and maintain the buildings.
The district has a contract for transportation services with Durham School Services, a nationwide full-service student transportation service provider headquartered in Lisle, Illinois. The total contract for the 2019-2020 school year for BPS was $4,763,006, based on 180 days of school, with a daily estimated cost to the district of $26,461. An amended contract has the district paying about $85,000 for the approximately 60 closed school days.
Cron said normal staffing for the district, pre-closure, was 80 bus drivers, 13 bus aides, four in management, and three mechanics. The district is currently utilizing two drivers, one mail run, and one manager.
Cron said transportation staff are continuing to be paid. Contractually, they are only obligated to pay 50 percent of the contract, “but bus drivers are hard to come by because of the certification required and the nature of the job.”
She noted paying them the full amount was a pro-active measure by the district for retention of those employees as they look ahead to the 2020-21 school year.
In Bloomfield Hills Schools, bus drivers are employed by the district and not outsourced to a private vendor.