Jackson Public School bus drivers left a board meeting on privatizing transportation relieved to have their jobs. Trustees voted down a proposal by Superintendent Dr. Cedric Gray to outsource transportation during a special board meeting Tuesday.
One company, First Student, was mentioned during discussions. They reportedly proposed a 4 year $11 million dollar plan. Over the last four years JPS spent $12.8 million dollars in student transportation according to officials.
Initially no board members would make a motion to vote on privatization. After a second attempt, the measure was voted down six to nothing with Board member Monica Gilmore Love abstaining.
The superintendent said he presented the privatization proposal because too often drivers were arriving late to school.
"We're gonna meet the challenge and get the students to school safely and on time so that they can be educated and produce the success that JPS can do," said bus driver representative Janice Brown.
"When something's not running right, the superintendent's responsibility is to explore the options, to make sure that the board is well inform first of all of the inefficiency and secondly of the choices that exist to improve, so that's where we got this from," said JPS Superintendent Dr. Cedric Gray. "This is not something done arbitrarily."
Opposition to outsourcing bus driver jobs came from a number of people including State Senator Sollie Norwood and Jackson Councilman De'Keither Stamps.
The board did approve Board President Doctor Otha Burton's proposal of a 2 year internal management period of the transportation department and Doctor Gray's recommendation of an external consultant for one year to assess and advice the district.