Governor Nikki Haley’s office is seeking public input before it moves forward with its efforts to privatize South Carolina’s school bus fleet.
Right now, South Carolina is the only state that owns all of its school buses, and Haley has said that should change. Her office sent out a “Request for Information” (RFI) Friday to different companies that operate buses in other states.
Haley has made privatizing the state’s fleet a priority, including calling for it during her State of the State speech in January. Right now, officials estimate the state paid $131 million last year in salaries and maintenance.
Making this change would… deliver our children a new fleet of buses. It would keep our school bus drivers employed while transferring our mechanics to the private sector. And it would put the focus of our Education Department where it needs to be: teaching our kids.
State Department of Education spokesman J.W. Ragley says lawmakers want to save money on vehicle maintenance so they can spend more in the classroom.
There’s only a fixed pot of money that’s available for our public schools in South Carolina. The more that we can get dollars into the classroom, the more we can affect and improve the educational outcome of our students.
In a nutshell, an RFI is a request by a government agency for input so it can better learn about an issue. In this case, the Governor’s Office is asking what steps it needs to take to make the switch, such as pricing, how to transfer current state drivers and mechanics, and combining services across districts.
The Governor’s Office says this is the first step in deciding whether privatization is the right direction to take. The current state budget includes a proviso that dictates the Governor’s Office, Department of Education, and the General Assembly must work together on any privatization plans.
The deadline for responses is May 27.