Applicants for the new Dallas Independent School District transportation department exceed openings in most categories, and Dallas ISD will get more than enough buses from troubled bus agency Dallas County Schools.
That's the update Dallas ISD trustees heard from staff Thursday as the school district scrambles to launch its own transportation department.
Voters decided in November to close DCS after a year of NBC 5 Investigates reports on scandals at the bus agency which serves nine North Texas school districts.
"We will do everything we can to provide a better service for our parents and for our community, and we're excited that we the responsibility of the control to do that now," Dallas ISD Deputy Superintendent Scott Layne said.
Since November, Dallas ISD and eight other districts DCS served have been negotiating with a dissolution committee set up to wind down DCS.
Dallas ISD is the largest district by far. Of 1,500 DCS buses, Dallas ISD will receive 962, more than enough for 850 routes. DCS drivers held demonstrations against the November referendum, concerned for their jobs. Now, Dallas ISD has received applications for nearly all the 1,100 transportation positions it has posted for the new department.
"We've only been accepting applications for about a month-and-a-half, so we've made tremendous progress," Layne said.
Trustee Dustin Marshall was a leader of the campaign in favor of dissolving DCS. Marshall said he is very impressed with the progress on starting new service, but has concerns about hiring problem drivers from DCS. NBC 5 Investigates reports included video of buses running red lights.
"We don't want to let a few bad apples spoil the bunch, so we need to make sure we are weeding those out," Marshall said.
Layne said eight driver applicants failed background checks, and 80 had past discipline issues that may exclude them from Dallas ISD employment.
NBC 5 Investigates reports also detailed problems with the DCS stop-arm camera citation program.
"I assume those things are still on the buses," Trustee Miguel Solis said. "So what is our plan around those cameras?"
Layne said Dallas ISD will not use the cameras but also does not plan to spend money removing them from buses.
The district has budgeted $5 million in the new transportation plan for bus replacement. Layne said the overall budget of $58.9 million is more than the $54 million initially expected for transportation but still within Dallas ISD ability to pay.
"I fully expect that we'll be able to find efficiencies," Trustee Edwin Flores said.
The district also intends to add GPS monitoring of bus location and RFID cards for students to log off buses in the future.
DCS will provide summer school bus service to Dallas ISD before the district's new transportation department launches service this fall.