Indianapolis Public Schools will part ways with its current student transportation provider in June to work with a new contractor in a move affecting more than 500 drivers and attendants.
Currently, about 70% of the district’s bus routes are handled by Lisle, Illinois-based Durham School Services, and the rest are covered by IPS transportation employees.
Last week, the Indianapolis Public Schools Board of Commissioners approved a new contract with Cincinnati-based First Student Inc. to provide student transportation for all routes through 2023, with an option to renew the contract for an additional three years after that.
An IPS spokeswoman told IBJ on Friday that 135 bus drivers and attendants for the district would lose their jobs for the routes they covered. In addition, she said, Durham provided 423 drivers and attendants for the routes that it covered.
However, on Friday, Durham filed a Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN) notice with state officials saying it would cease operations at its two local facilities and lay off 514 workers in June, when its contract with IPS expires.
In addition to drivers and bus assistants, the positions being eliminated included maintenance technicians, managers, operations supervisors and office administrators.
Ed Flavin, a spokesmen for Durham, told IBJ that the two Indianapolis facilities were closing because the company’s contract isn’t being renewed.
First Student intends to hire about 560 people for the new contract, said IPS Communications Manager Carrie Cline Black.
“We are certainly encouraging First Student to hire any successful bus driver or attendant who drives an IPS route,” she said Friday.
It’s not unusual for at least some of the former employees of companies that lose a large services contract to land jobs with the new provider. Representatives of First Student did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Friday afternoon on how it planned to recruit workers for the IPS contract.
Durham operates in Indianapolis at 2525 N. Shadeland Ave. and 1777 Belmont Ave. The WARN notice states that its workforce includes 218 drivers and 248 bus assistants.
Flavin told IBJ on Friday that the company serves other districts in the metropolitan Indianapolis market “and we encourage our employees to apply for positions there as well as to look at any of the opportunities we have across the Unite States.”
IPS put out a solicitation in November for transportation providers and received responses from both Durham and First Student. First Student’s bid was millions less than Durham’s, board documents show, and First Student anticipates purchasing a new fleet of buses to fulfill the contract. The contract for the first year is expected to cost IPS $33.3 million.
Durham began providing transportation for the district in 2010.
Editor’s note: This story was updated to reflect additional comments from Durham and to specify the numbers of drivers and attendants used by Durham for the IPS routes.