Detroit Public Schools reaches transportation settlement

Contact:

Steven Wasko at 313 873-4542; Cell: 313 212-563; steven.wasko@detroitk12.org
or Kisha Verdusco at cell: 313 421-8651

Detroit Public Schools and Detroit-headquartered Safeway Transportation have agreed in writing to settle a dispute and to the company dropping state and federal lawsuits that would have been a burden to the district in terms of time and resources.

Emergency Financial Manager Robert C. Bobb credits Rev. Oscar King and the leadership of the Council of Baptist Pastors, as well as state legislators including Reps. Fred Durhal and Bert Johnson for their assistance in bringing the parties together. A final settlement agreement will be drawn up over the next several days.

The agreement allows the district to continue to foresee savings of $45 million over the five year period as part of an outsourcing of student transportation functions. Safeway will operate 15% of all routes and agree to the same terms and conditions of the performance-based contracts with the other vendors, Detroit-headquartered ABC Student

Transportation, and First Student. Forty percent of all business will go to Detroit headquartered, African American owned companies, and in conjunction with the First Student contract removes all of the personnel, benefits and pension obligations from DPS. Utilizing three companies will provide greater flexibility.

The direct savings represents $8 million annually for each year of the five year contract and $5.1 million for purchase of the current DPS fleet.

There are many improvements to safety features on the buses, which will have new GPS tracking systems through the Zonar EVIR System, which will provide mapping data and routing optimization to create the most efficient combination of stops and routes. Digital cameras will be on all buses so students can be monitored to improve safety, and a Child Check-Mate System on buses will ensure no children are left on buses at the end of a route.

All buses will feature an extension that reaches out from the front bumper when a bus is stopped. This safety feature is used to prevent bus drivers from not being able to see students crossing in front of them when the bus is stopped.

Parents will also have access to the same local call center to make transportation requests, and there will be significant upgrades to the scheduling center.

The current Operators contracts will be honored through expiration on June 30. All current DPS employees have been offered the opportunity to transition to First Student staff, subject to First Student hiring rules and procedures. These procedures include background checks, physical exams and drug testing. First Student will also recognize the Teamsters. An extensive training program will be required for all employees.

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