JPS board members vote against outsourcing bus provider

JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – The Jackson Public School District will continue to operate its own transportation department.

A vote to sign a contract with First Student, Incorporated failed in tonight’s board meeting.

The district has dealt with complaints from parents and students about buses arriving late to schools and bus stops.

In 2013, the district opened its mind to contracting an outside bus transportation provider like First Student. But just like today, that proposal did not pass.

The proposal on the $7.9 million to $8.7 million contract with First Student failed with a 3 to 3 vote.

The company could not promise board members that it could solve its biggest issue.

“Obviously if there are issues, there’s not a 100% on time performance. We don’t guarantee a 100% on time performance. But we do average in the high 90s,” First Student’s Director of Business Development Fred Smith said.

The proposal offered a $5 pay increase and a $1,500 signing bonus for drivers.

They also offered to provide the district with 68 new buses for their fleet in the first year, with the option for the district to buy the buses.

Jackson Publics School’s Transporation Executive Director Derick Williams says 50 of the district’s 299 buses are currently down.

“At Murrah they have 32 buses. And at one point we were at least 16, 17 buses late a day. We’ve gotten it down now to about four. At Forest Hill we have 19 buses, and we have 3 buses that are late. The same 3 buses. So we’re working on that,” Williams said.

He added the biggest obstacle they face with getting students to class on tie is man power and routing, “If you’re looking at middle and high school level, there’s not enough time between the two in order to get the buses there in a timely matter. If you look at it, we’re mostly late with our high schools.”

Williams says now the department is currently looking at upgraded maps to make changes for next year.

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