MONROE -- Monroe County school officials will learn in about four months the potential cost savings by pooling busing operations.
The Monroe County Intermediate School District recently entered into a contract with Management Partnership Services to conduct a countywide transportation study with the goal of determining what costs savings can be achieved through regionalized busing.
The agreement with the Rockville, Md., company, which was approved by the ISD board at a special meeting Feb. 9, will cost $43,000, an expense the ISD will pay.
The evaluation of the transportation operations of the school districts would determine any savings from standardized shared supervision of staff, more efficient bus routes, and consolidated purchases.
The boards of education of the county's nine public school districts agreed to participate in the study.
Bedford Public Schools initially said no, but subsequently joined.
Monroe Public Schools also was reluctant to participate, and its board, concerned about turning its transportation over to the ISD, agreed only to proceed with the study and evaluate the results.
With 5,000 and 6,500 students, respectively, Bedford and Monroe are the largest school districts in the county.
About 5,000 students in Monroe Schools use busing.
The district maintains a fleet of 73 buses and employs 102 workers for student transportation.
About 2,800 students use Bedford Schools buses and the district has 53 buses and 60 employees involved in transportation operations.
The suburban Toledo school district is grappling with a $4 million budget deficit for next year and that shortfall is expected to grow another $2 million under Gov. Rick Snyder's proposed budget.
Donald Spencer, ISD superintendent, said Management Partnership Services conducted the regional busing study for Livingston Educational Service Agency, the special education school system that the ISD used as an example for cost savings from streamlining operations.
"They have done this work all over the United States and Canada. They are highly experienced," Mr. Spencer said. "The study is looking better and better as the year goes on."
The firm, which has offices in Michigan, was contracted by Bedford Schools about 10 years ago to conduct a routing schedule for busing operations. Management Partnership Services and two other firms were interviewed by a committee of representatives from the ISD and the nine school districts.
Mr. Spencer said the group, which includes transportation directors, superintendents, and business managers, unanimously recommended the firm to the ISD Board of Education.
"Everyone was very pleased with the fact we went with MPS," he said.
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