Dallas County voters decided "against" school bus provider Dallas County Schools Tuesday, voting to shut down the 171-year-old agency with 58 percent of the vote.
With the release of early voting numbers at 7 p.m., Dallas County Schools supporters found themselves behind from the start with 56 percent of voters choosing to close the troubled school bus agency.
As more returns were tallied, the total number of votes increased but the percentages didn't really change. As of 11:20 p.m., 100 percent of the vote has been counted with 47,278 voting to close the agency and only 33,866 voting to keep it.
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Dallas County Schools issued a statement Wednesday, thanking the community for their support and for allowing them to serve.
On November 7th, the majority of the 6.5% of Dallas County residents that voted, chose to discontinue the operation of Dallas County Schools (“DCS”) after the 2017-2018 school year. DCS staff are disheartened with the outcome, but extremely thankful for the support we received. DCS remains dedicated to serving the students, parents and districts in and around Dallas County for as long as we have the opportunity to do so. We wish the school districts the best and will do everything we can to assist with a smooth transition. Thank you for supporting DCS over the years and allowing us to serve this incredible community.
Dallas County Schools
Since a majority of voters voted "Against" DCS, the agency will be phased out. One week after Tuesday's election a dissolution committee will replace the DCS board.
The committee would include the superintendents of the nine districts that use DCS for busing (Aledo ISD, Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD, Cedar Hill ISD, DeSoto ISD, Dallas ISD, Highland Park ISD, Irving ISD, Lancaster ISD and Richardson ISD) and financial experts appointed by the state.
The committee will run DCS through the end of the 2017-2018 school year.
Next June the buses the agency owns, as well as the service centers, will be split up among the nine school districts. The districts will then decide if they'll manage their own busing systems or if they'll contract with another company.
Since DCS has more than $100 million in outstanding debt, the DCS property tax will still be collected from Dallas County taxpayers until the debt is paid off.
Had a majority of voters voted "For" DCS, the agency would have continued to provide bus transportation as they have for 90 years. However, the future of the agency would have remained murky since they may have yet ended up in bankruptcy court.
The future of DCS was put up for a vote after state legislators became frustrated with the agency following a series of reports by NBC 5 Investigates that highlighted safety and financial problems at the agency.
Our investigation found the agency used $80,000 of taxpayer money to pay fines incurred by hundreds of school bus drivers running red lights. For years NBC 5 Investigates has also reported on a risky school bus camera venture that lost millions of dollars and a controversial land deal that cost millions more.
While rallying support for a "For" vote, DCS leadership said they've improved bus safety, gotten rid of the past leadership that led to the financial troubles and put new protections in place to make sure it doesn't happen again.