Change: Government of Guam should outsource its school bus services


Guampdn.com
6:00 PM, Jun. 12, 2011

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The way that school bus services are run by the Department of Public Works makes a strong case for outsourcing this duty to the private sector.

Students at public and private schools get free busing during the normal school year. The costs are covered by the Public Works budget.

But for summer school, the Guam Department of Education has to shell out hundreds of thousands of dollars to provide this same service. This summer, the education agency is shelling out $270,000 for summer school busing.

Public Works says the payment is needed to cover equipment, maintenance and the cost of drivers, benefits and an administrative fee. Those costs aren’t covered by the agency’s regular budget.

But bus drivers and those who maintain the school buses are year-round, full-time employees. Why is the local education agency footing the bill for these costs for summer school? Why not just make the cost of summer school busing part of the Public Works budget?

The agency says drivers need time in the summer to get training and recertification, and that when not driving they upgrade and maintain bus substations, clean up roadsides along bus routes and help maintain bus shelters, among other duties. It would make more sense for public works to contract out that kind of unskilled work instead of having bus drivers do it.

In fact, it just makes sense to outsource all school bus services. The private company or companies that take on this duty would be paid only for busing and nothing else. GovGuam wouldn’t have to pay for winter and spring break, since no school bus routes run then. And it wouldn’t have to pay as much in summer, as fewer drivers are required. The local government also wouldn’t pay for private school busing; those costs would have to be paid by the private schools.

Many other jurisdictions outsource school bus services. In Hawaii, students ride regular public transportation. When mass transit isn’t available, students ride school buses but their parents have to pay a flat rate for the service.

Outsourced school busing would be much more efficient, and save the constantly cash-strapped government of Guam money, which in turn could be used on other critical, needed services.

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