The Monroe County Community School Corporation board voted Tuesday to grant 42 bus routes to a corporate fleet based in Michigan, despite protests from community members and bus drivers.
The decision to grant routes to Auxilio Services stems from years of bus driver shortages in the district, causing drivers to double up on routes and often making students late to class or returning home.
In the most recent bidding cycle, Auxilio was able to underbid existing owner-operators for 42 of the 43 available routes.
“All of these drivers are going to be local drivers. The wages that they receive from this company…are going to stay in the local community.”
Some community members were outraged by the decision to privatize busing. But MCCSC’s Public Information Officer Andrew Clampitt says privatization is not uncommon.
“Construction services, building projects, landscaping—there are relationships and partnerships that MCCSC has with several other areas of our school corporation where we work with private companies,” Clampitt says.
Members of the community voiced various concerns in an 84-page report titled “No to Auxilio, Yes to Our Community.” The report says outsourcing jobs will take money out of the local economy. Clampitt says that’s not the case.
“All of these drivers are going to be local drivers,” Clampitt says. “The wages that they receive from this company to drive these buses are going to stay in the local community”
Clampitt says Auxilio is willing to give hiring priority to previous contract drivers and allow them to drive their old routes.
The report also voiced dissatisfaction with Auxilio’s operation standards. But Clampitt says the fleet will be subject to the same inspections and background checks as MCCSC-employed drivers.
The board granted one route to contract driver Rogenia Cobb who had the lowest bid. All contracts were approved with a 5-1 passing vote.