Monday, September 23, 2019

Citing my sources on Durham

When I testified at last Monday's Worcester subcommittee meeting on the proposed renewal of the Durham bus contract, I referenced a number of articles from across the country about the service districts aren't receiving from the company. I also noted in my Thursday testimony that an article from that day had spoke of another district planning to move to self-operation from Durham; on Friday, another joined them. I thought it might be useful for others to have those, and other, links.

Roanoke City, Virginia has just started a contract with Durham; they have had a chaotic beginning of the year, which involved the company firing the local manager. Southern schools largely start earlier than we in the Northeast do, so they're a month in and still having issues. The quote that I read was from their school board member Laura Rottenborn, who at a meeting two weeks ago said:
“Wearing my parent only hat, not my board hat, I personally called Durham to find out where my child’s bus was and it took me 30 minutes to get an answer. And I as a parent find that unacceptable. And as a board member on behalf of all of our children in our school division, that is unacceptable,” Rottenborn said in the meeting.
They are now five weeks into school and the issues with Durham have just hit The Washington Post.

 Charleston County, South Carolina had 3000 bus complaints logged with the school district last year. As for what impact that had on students:
“This is the third week without a bus with no explanation of what has happened to the driver,” one bus complaint from a Thomas C. Cario parent said. “Why is the bus just “not coming?”
McCarthy said her daughter has had to miss school because a bus never showed up.
“She’s missed two days of school the whole day this year due to buses not being here on time,” McCarthy said. “I’ve tried to get them to tell me what time the bus is going to be there to pick her up so she can go home or go back out to wait for the bus and they can’t tell you what time. They just want them to wait outside.”
And it hasn't improved this year.

Central Dauphin schools (that's Harrrisburg), Pennsylvania counts this year as a new low.

Cumberland, Rhode Island officials are disgusted enough with Durham's services that they are planning now, two years before their contract is up, to work with other districts towards self-operation.
On Durham’s chronic issues returning this year, Mitchell said school officials are extremely frustrated.
“At some point, things seem to iron out,” he said. “To be honest, the performance up to this point has been disappointing and I think unacceptable.”
And while Worcester was renewing the contract with Durham, the Framingham School Committee was planning to move on self-operation:
School Committee Chairman Adam Freudberg, of District 4, said the district will start to look for bids from bus companies in January 2021. He urged the district to look into “what can be done here to strategically prepare and do all that work to look into bringing it in-house” soon.
“If bringing it in-house is the right thing for Framingham, let’s do that work right now to get ready for January of 2021,” said Freudberg.
Among the districts that has brought transportation into district operation is Pflugerville ISD in Texas:
PfISD officials said the transition will help the district retain quality control and save funds in the long term.
“One of the things we wanted to do as a district was really get a better control of this specific area,” PfISD Chief Operating Officer Ed Ramos said.
This was after videos of overcrowded buses with students sitting on the floor last spring during a contract that had been renewed in 2015 over the protests of parents.

And PS: no, it isn't some sort of magic insider information. I just know how to use Google. 

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