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District 113A Bus Drivers, to Board: 'We're Asking You to Support Us'

Lemont-Bromberek District 113A bus drivers pleaded with the board of education to keep transportation services in-house. The board reviewed bids, and will vote April 23.

District 113A bus drivers stood together Wednesday night, with a simple request for the Board of Education: don't subcontract their jobs. 

The board reviewed bids for outsourcing the district's bus services, with comparisons between current costs, and bids from companies First Student and Westway. Documents show contracting the services with First Student would save the district $310,501 over three years, while the district could see savings of $105,295 with Westway. 

Impassioned drivers filed to the microphone behind spokesperson Kathy Kirby, who addressed the board on their behalf. 

"We care what happens to the children in our district," Kirby said. "We are the first adult that our children see in their school experience, and the last adult they see on their way home from school. ... As drivers, we accept the responsibility of making sure they get to and from school safely."

District Business Manager Barb Germany presented the bids and their details, including information on personal/sick days, hourly pay and health insurance.

TOTAL COSTS

2015–2016 School Year
  • Current D113A bus drivers: $1,066,836 
  • First Student: $1,033,119 (Savings of 3 percent)
  • Westway: $1,092,567 (No savings)
2016–2017 School Year
  • Current: $1,171,248 
  • First Student: $1,048,616 (Savings of 10 percent)
  • Westway: $1,125,344 (Savings of 4 percent)
2017–2018 School Year
  • Current: $1,218,496 
  • First Student: $1,064,345 (Savings of 13 percent)
  • Westway: $1,159,104 (Savings of 5 percent)
Both Westway and First Student have a proposed transition plan for current staff and also to maintain continuity in the district's transportation program. 

The board will hold a public hearing April 23, before casting a final vote.

Bus driver of 24 years Anita Saldana said that while she understands the district's desire to be fiscally prudent, the safety of students should come first.

"I know my coworkers, I know how we went above and beyond the call of duty," Saldana said. "Everything is financial nowadays. I hope they put the children first. I worry about my coworkers."

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Edward Andrysiak February 20, 2014 at 09:07 AM
Reporting the savings over a three year period resulted in that $300,000 number which tends to draw one in. In fact the savings per year are $100,000 and I am leary that the contract doesn't have an escalation clause based on fuel cost or some other factor. All that aside I would like to see the cost per student expressed and that number should be the cost spread over the entire student body not just those bused. Let's see what it costs per student and what the savings per student comes to. It just might be a few bucks and not worth giving up our great drivers. And, it might bring up another way to pay for the "savings".
Laura Kennedy February 20, 2014 at 05:22 PM
I had a horrible experience with one of these drivers. It was an easy afternoon kindergarten route and she was horrible to deal with. She was unprofessional with my son and I. I don't feel that they "put the kids first". Maybe it is time for a change.
Edward Andrysiak February 21, 2014 at 08:20 AM
To make your assertion valid you need to present all the detail and then, there is the need for the drivers input before one an give a fair assessment.
aletha February 22, 2014 at 12:11 PM
I support our Bus Drivers in Lemont, why don't you out source some of the teachers who have high pay and save money that way, but no lets go and hit the ones who do not make as much money and who know the kids and the kids know the bus drivers lets hit them below the belt. Why not ask the parents who children ride the bus what they want.
Karen Smith Kling March 20, 2014 at 11:00 AM
I feel this would be a Huge mistake! The out-sourced bus company switches drivers all the time. Our children would not have the same driver everyday. Given the cold winter we had, would you want your child waiting outside for the bus that might not come because the driver is not familiar with the route. My daughter's driver now comes everyday at the same time on the dot! Do these out-sourced drivers have background checks? Nearly all of our drivers now are from Lemont, you would be putting our "neighbors" out of a job! If this out-sourcing occurs, I for one will be taking my daughter to and from school everyday. I believe any more parents will be doing the same. Now you will have to deal the congestion on 127th. Please don't let money be the deciding factor in your decision!

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