The Timothy Christian School (TCS) Board has unanimously approved contracting with First Student to provide complete busing services for TCS beginning with the 2018-2019 school year. TCS has considered partnering with a professional transportation service contractor many times. Most recently, over the last 3 years the Finance and Operations Committee and the School Board have been considering this option very closely. The board examined all of the issues related to transportation services, asking many good questions, and taking in a great deal of input when making this decision.
Ultimately, the school board decided that the best way for TCS to provide transportation services is through contracting with First Student. First Student brings national expertise, excellent routing software, skilled management, quality vehicles, and a large driver workforce to provide transportation service for TCS. They are currently providing the transportation for three of our school bus routes, so 1 out of 5 TCS families are already using First Student. We look forward to them providing the same high level of service for the rest of our families beginning next fall.
A change like this comes with a lot of questions. We have prepared a list of FAQ’s for you to get a better understanding of what this change means for your family and our school. As always, feel free to reach out to our Business Manager Jason vandenBrink (email@example.com), or Superintendent Matt Davidson (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you have additional questions not addressed below.
- How will our student(s) know which bus to get on? There will be a specific First Student bus assigned to your bus route on a permanent basis. That bus will have a sign in the side window near the door that will say “Timothy Christian Schools Bus #”.
2. How will this affect our bus experience? The pickup to drop off experience will not change at all by working with First Student. In fact, 3 of our current 15 total bus routes are already provided by First Student. TCS has been working with them for 2 years now.
3. Will the First Student buses be as good as our current buses? Yes, or better. Because First Student runs a large operation and puts their vehicles to use year round on different tasks, they are able to maintain a newer fleet than we are able to with our small operation. First Student vehicles will be on average newer and have fewer miles than the buses TCS currently operates.
4. Will First Student do the routing? As part of the contract with First Student they will do the routing for TCS.
5. Will all of the bus stops change? Generally no, First Student will start with the existing routes and make changes as families are added or leave the school just like we have always done every summer. They have a team of experienced staff who do the routing for many school districts every year, as well as sophisticated software they use to make the most efficient routes possible. They may recommend improvements or changes to the bus routes for them to be most efficient, and TCS will have the ability to approve or provide input on proposed changes.
6. Will there be an increased cost to families for outsourced busing? No, the tuition and fees for next school year have already been set when the school board approved the budget for next year. The Bus fee has been frozen for the 2018-2019 school year at the current level of $350 per student.
7. We are sad to lose our bus drivers, what will happen to them? The contract with First Student includes a transition opportunity for the current TCS bus drivers. They have the opportunity, at their choice, to take a job with First Student driving the exact same bus route as they are right now. That decision will be up to each individual driver. There are many factors personal to each driver that go into the decision to stay on with First Student; so some may continue driving TCS students while others may choose not to.
8. Will the First Student drivers be as good as our current bus drivers? Yes, First Student runs an excellent driver training and professional development program. First Student provides more safety training and more driver development than we are able to do with our small operation.
9. How will communication work if there is an emergency? TCS will provide parents with all the normal transportation instructions at the beginning of the year as always. This will include a contact number for the First Student dispatch team for you to call if you have any questions or concerns when the buses are out on the road.
10. What if we have concerns about student behavior or about our bus driver? You can bring those concerns to the TCS business office and we will investigate any student behavior and handle any necessary discipline. We will also follow up with the First Student management staff if any concerns ever come up about a bus driver.
11. How is student behavior managed on First Student buses? First Student will use our established bus rules for student behavior. When behavior is a problem the driver will report back to their dispatch who in turn will contact TCS.
12. What about Field Trips? First Student will also provide transportation for our field trips and sports runs. Those services are taken into account in the service agreement with First Student.
13. How was this decision made? The TCS Finance and Operations Committee and Full School Board has been looking at this question for several years. TCS solicited bids from several providers over the past 5 years, and the board considered the proposal from First Student very closely over many board meetings. Ultimately the Finance and Operations Committee recommended that contracting with First Student was the best way for TCS to provide the extremely valuable busing service to our families and the Full Board approved the contract at the March board meeting.
14. Is TCS considering dropping busing altogether? No. We have received concrete feedback many times that busing is very important to many TCS families. A few years ago, a school wide survey was conducted and the most consistent response was that busing is incredibly valuable to TCS families. There is no plan to eliminate or reduce busing services.
15.Will the buses no longer say “Timothy Christian Schools” on the side? Correct. First Student will use buses with “First Student” on the side.
16. Will TCS still own its own buses? No, TCS will sell its existing bus fleet to First Student as part of the contract. But TCS will keep operating its “white activity buses” for sports and other student activities.
17. How will this benefit TCS? Working with First Student shifts a great deal of administrative burden off of the school. Also, the liability and insurance, for transporting 650 students to and from school each day is shifted off of the school and over to First Student