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13 WTHR Indianapolis | Indianapolis Local News & Weather

IPS approves contract with First Student to take over its transportation system

The school district intends to turning over its bus operation to a private company, a move that is expected to save millions and improve safety.

UPDATE: The IPS board approved a transportation contract with First Student Thursday night.

“The IPS Board of School Commissioners approved a contract with First Student Transportation that will improve the quality and reliability of transportation for our students and provide increased peace of mind for families. We value our employees and their loyal service and will work cooperatively with First Student to help all successful teammates find a new job within the company," the board said in a release.

INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) - Indianapolis Public Schools wants out of the transportation business.

The school district intends to turning over its bus operation to a private company, a move that is expected to save millions and improve safety.

It is a three-year, $99 million deal aimed at saving IPS $21 million and getting 25,000 kids to and from school safely every day using new technology.

A private contractor is already running two-thirds of the IPS bus routes. The plan is to hire a single company to be responsible for running all of the school district's 300-plus routes.

"I see it as the best for our families, our community and even our employees," said Scott Martin, the IPS deputy superintendent for operations.

The new company, First Student, comes with a new fleet of buses, equipped with the newest video cameras that watch over students and photograph drivers who ignore bus stop arms. The company would also test a test a program that actually keeps track of individual students.

"If they got on the bus, where that bus is. If they got on the bus where they got off the bus, when they got off the bus," Martin explained.

He expects 135 IPS bus drivers and bus attendants would lose their jobs, but could be hired to work for First Student.

"In the end, they will make more money plus a pay increase, plus a sign-on bonus at the time the contract begins," he said.

If parents have a problem, IPS says they will still call IPS.

The school district intends to keep a small transportation team. It will be responsible for holding First Student accountable for service and student safety.

The contract is expected to be approved during Thursday night’s school board meeting.