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Bus drivers not on board plan to privatize school bus service
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With the Warren County School Board poised to award the county’s school busing duties to a private company, both drivers and county officials are leery of the move to privatize the county-run department.“We would ask you to delay your decision until later next month to give time for more study,” said County Executive John Pelham, who addressed the School Board at its special meeting Thursday night at Dibrell Elementary with numerous bus drivers on hand.The School Board unanimously voted to wait until mid-May, but agreed to go ahead with drawing up a contract with Durham Bus Services for bus service next school year.“We are concerned because we are getting a lot of calls from our constituents about this,” said County Commissioner Terry Bell, noting the Warren County Commission has been left out of the loop even though it funds a major part of the annual school budget. “We would just like some information about what is going on.”Greg Walter with Durham Bus Services was on hand and explained his company’s position on contracting to do business with the school system, noting he sees an annual savings of between $120,000 and $150,000 from the current county bus budget.“If we didn’t think we could save you money from your current budget then we wouldn’t be here tonight,” said Walter, noting his company has an escape clause where schools can get out of the contract if they are not satisfied. “We’ve been doing business for 94 years and no one has ever opted out.”Walter said his company intends on hiring present school bus employees and has even calculated raises and medical benefits in the bid estimate.