Q: How do we know that a Durham operation will be as safe as the one the school district provides?
A: Durham School Services must adhere to the same rules and regulations governing the operation of school buses as your school district. As a private company, there are additional requirements we must meet that a school district does not have to worry about. For example, State inspectors and State authorities are more rigorous in their examination of our employees and in the inspection of our buses. We must meet higher standards than most school districts.
Q: What happens to our employees?
A: Current transportation employees are an important concern for us too. It is in our best interest to retain as many of these employees who meet our employment standards as possible. Because they are familiar with the community, the parents, and the children, it’s a win-win scenario to be able to hire current staff. These employees receive first consideration for all available positions. The drivers who come to work for Durham will receive a competitive wage package as agreed to by the school district.
All drivers will be required to pass a drug and alcohol screening, a criminal background check, and a driving evaluation. This will ensure they meet the high standards both the school district and Durham agree are necessary to run a safe and efficient school transportation program.
Q: What kind of employee benefits do you provide?
A: We provide a competitive benefits package, customized for each client.
Q: What about student discipline? Who handles what?
A: Student discipline is a critical issue for both the company and the school district. Keeping this in mind, we strongly believe that a partnership approach regarding student management is key to enhancing the transportation experience for all students. We customize a student management plan that is based on the school district’s discipline policy, while incorporating best practices we’ve identified over the years through our experience. We rely on close cooperation between the school site staff and the driver for effective implementation. Our experience also tells us that this formula is highly successful in keeping discipline issues that might cross your desk to a minimum.
Q: How can Durham School Services provide equal service at a lower cost and still make a profit?
A: There are three principal reasons for this:
First, the public sector operates in a monopolistic environment, while the private sector functions in a competitive environment. In other words, a company like Durham has competition; a school district has no one to compete with but itself. Private company managers are constantly faced with the challenge of providing quality service at a competitive price. We must compete for your business not only within our own industry, but also with you.
Second, Durham School Services’ general managers—the people responsible for operating the day-to-day transportation program —are backed by a Corporate staff of individuals with expertise in each area of the operations, i.e., safety, training, maintenance, operations and cost control. When a Durham manager is confronted with a new or unique issue, they are not in it alone or in the position of having to “reinvent the wheel” to find a solution. Durham’s years of experience provide a wealth of information. This allows our Corporate staff to provide the local manager with solutions and support that will be safe and cost effective.
Third, capital costs (buses and equipment) are spread over the entire useful life of the equipment. The school district pays only a proportional share of these costs on an annual basis, rather than the total cost for replacement. This leveling of equipment costs plus accelerated tax deductions available to the private sector creates lower costs for the customer.
In summary, there are multiple ways our managers work every day to ensure the safest, most cost-effective operating transportation program. It’s all of the big and little efficiencies combined that result in a highly-efficient, low-cost operation that can improve safety, quality, and service to your school district.