Rockwood purchases bus fleet

First Student, which runs bus services across the US and Canada, has provided students with transportation to and from school; however, starting next year, Rockwood School District will no longer be among these.

On Feb 18, the district announced that it will purchase a fleet of buses and offer its own transportation.

“This year the bids were due for next year to renew a transportation contract, and based on the bids they got back, the district believes that they can operate the transportation at a lower cost by running it themselves,” Freshman Principal Dr. Dan Ramsey said.

Dr. Eric Knost, Rockwood superintendent, said maintaining business with the old busing company was simply too costly.

“It all comes down to dollars and cents,” Dr. Knost said. “In order to maintain contracted services, we would need to increase our budget by a million dollars and more over the next few years. We can purchase our own fleet and bring the management in-house while staying in budget. This is largely due to the fact that an outside company needs a profit margin.”

At the board meeting on March 3, the Board of Education approved Mike Heyman to become the new Rockwood Director of Transportation. Heyman has had experience in managing transportation for DHL World Wide Express, United Parcel Service and First Student.

As for the bus drivers themselves, they will have the opportunity to join the new Rockwood bus program.

“They will have the option to apply as drivers in Rockwood or if they wish,” Dr. Knost said. “They can continue driving for their current employer elsewhere. ”

For Tim King, junior, the busing system change will result in higher satisfaction.

“Obviously, the district has to be able to pay for the buses and the drivers,” King said. “But I think this will improve the quality of the district and the attractiveness of the district to people who are thinking about moving here.”

King lives in a neighborhood that is difficult to reach by bus on poor weather days, and is hopeful the new buses will fix that.

“I think it will make getting to school easier,” King said. “They might actually be on time for a change. Right now my brother, who is in seventh grade, his bus is always 15 minutes late when it comes for him, so I just think that if Rockwood is actually in charge of its own buses, then good things will happen.”

For students who live outside of the district lines, the switch should have little effect. The Voluntary Interdistrict Choice Corporation will continue to provide their own transportation through other bus companies.

The new buses should have little effect on snow day decision, Dr. Ramsey said.