Waterloo School Board chooses new bus company - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Waterloo School Board chooses new bus company

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WATERLOO (KWWL) -

A new company has been chosen to provide transportation services for the Waterloo Community School District.

The Waterloo School Board approved Durham School Services to run the district's buses.

Waterloo bus drivers pleaded their case before the board at Monday night's meeting.

They showed up in force - partly to defend themselves and partly to defend the company they currently work for - First Student.

Company managers pleaded their case to win a new 3-year contract.

"We are not perfect. We do make mistakes but over the past 7 months, we have put policies and procedures in place to eliminate or minimize mistakes and we will not or ever put a piece of equipment on the roads that will jeopardize the safety of the students or the community," said Kevin Casey, First Student manager.

But board members and the district's superintendent felt another company would be best to handle transportation - choosing Durham over First Student.

"Durham seemed more willing to work with the school district in order to improve things. We heard a lot of frustrations from bus drivers tonight about things they would like to be changed and Durham seemed more willing to look into making those changes," said School Board President Mike Young.

"I don't like it. I think they should've sat down with a few more of us before they made their final decision because we're the ones out here every day dealing with the kids, parents, grandparents and the administration and not getting the support we need," said bus driver Becky Orvis.

Orvis and other drivers say they're concerned about discipline issues and overcrowding on some buses.

Many wanted to send a message - no matter which company gained the contract.

"We've never been to a school board meeting and been able to be heard. Everything we hear comes from the district offices. Why'd you do this, why'd you do that? This was our night to be heard," said bus driver Dale Wille.

Current bus drivers will have to reapply for their jobs with Durham.

The hiring process begins soon.

"It's critical that people we hire, we're going to hire a lot of current staff that will have that intellectual capital and know some things work better than others," said Rick Klaus, VP Sales for Durham School Services.

Board members say they heard the drivers loud and clear.

They plan to meet with some on a regular basis soon. There's no start date for Durham School Services to provide transportation.

The district says it plans to hire a route manager to oversee bus routes beginning next year.

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