Columbus City Schools Drops First Student Bus Contract - NBC4: Columbus, Ohio News, Weather, and Sports (WCMH-TV)

Columbus City Schools Drops First Student Bus Contract

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COLUMBUS, Ohio -

Big changes are on the way as Columbus City Schools voted to drop the district's bus contract.

The change means that the district will now add more buses and drivers to the fleet.

Sticker shock forced the change, officials said. It was going to cost Columbus City Schools an extra $6 million each year to keep First Student behind the wheel. With the deal ending -- the school decided to take over transportation.

"It's not a matter of better or being able to equate one way or the other. It's just we are confident in Columbus City Schools that we can provide quality service," said John Stanford, deputy superintendent.

So what does the change mean for taxpayers?

The district currently has 545 buses in the fleet, and they will be adding 300 new buses to replace those that were provided by First Student.

It will cost the district $15 million each year to add the buses, drivers, and keep up on maintenance.

District officials said they will save $10.6 million over three years.

Stanford said that by issuing bonds -- the debt is paid off over time.

But not everyone is on board with the plan.

School Board member Mike Wiles said he wanted a better evaluation completed, and that he has concerns on being able to hire 300 drivers by next school year.

"Last fall, we had trouble getting enough drivers. I think we needed 25 or 30 or some number of drivers and we were not able to get that many and now all of sudden we are going to go out a hire 300?" Wiles said.

Stanford is confident that the district will be able to find enough drivers and will start looking in the next few weeks.

Stanford said the district will first offer jobs to First Student drivers but said they will be checking driver records and their performance before any of those drivers would be hired.

The district said they will be getting the new buses sometime in July.

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