CEDAR HILL (CBSDFW.COM) – Headed in a different direction. As the new school year gets underway in Cedar Hill, district leaders are also trying out a new company to get students to and from school. It’s just the latest consequence of the shut down of scandal plagued Dallas County Schools.
“All routes ran, all drivers showed up, which was fabulous…and so, just a great start to the school year,” says Deputy Supt. Kellie Spencer.
Cedar Hill, like so many other North Texas districts, was pushed into the transportation business after voters dissolved DCS. After considering the options and possible costs, the school board partnered with DeSoto ISD and put their bus services out to bid hiring a Cincinnati based company called ‘First Student.’ The company will hire and train drivers, and handle payroll.
“So they’re handling essentially the day to day operations. They’ll also maintain and provide the maintenance to the buses, tires, brakes. While we are still responsible for any fuel. So, like I said, yesterday for the first time we had a propane delivery!”
District leaders have been moving at warp speed for months to pull off the transition– moving into their new bus yard facility just three weeks ago.
“Even a matter of how we’re going to fuel our buses had to be taken care of in a few months,” says Supt. Billy Snow. “We’re off to a good start this morning.”
Supt. Snow hopped on a bus for a quick ride this morning, just to make certain. He says first day bumps are to be expected; but, overall everything is running smoothly. “We’ve handled it pretty well…now, we want to focus on taking our kids to the next level academically.”
Making sure they arrive at school safely and on time, staffers say, is a great way to start. Although local districts were bystanders in the scandal that led to the dissolution of DCS, Cedar Hill staffers say they have learned a valuable lesson and will insist on more financial oversight with their new provider.
“We are going to require, not necessarily a formal audit each year; but, an opportunity to get into the books and look at how we are actually being billed,” says Spencer, “and make sure we are being billed for the services that are being provided.”
Now, with buses rolling and arriving on time, Spencer is offering encouragement to other districts now taking on this task themselves.
“It really is remarkable, in my mind, that the districts who were participating in DCS have pulled their resources together and made this happen…for their kids and their districts.”