Weatherford ISD Terminates Agreement With Dallas County Schools

The Weatherford Independent School District Board of Trustees voted to terminate its agreement with Dallas County Schools this summer.

District spokeswoman Charlotte LaGrone said the board decided at Monday's meeting to terminate the $1.3 million contract that went into effect in August 2016.

The contract was scheduled to expire in 2019. It will now end in June.

LaGrone added that the decision to terminate the agreement was in line with the district’s plan to bring transportation services in-house.

"We appreciate the service provided by DCS to Weatherford ISD during the 2016-2017 school year," she said in an email.

Weatherford ISD superintendent Dr. Jeff Hanks said the decision was not influenced by the ongoing turmoil at DCS, which is currently facing financial woes and changes in its leadership.

"That wasn't part of the conversation. 'Oh look what's going on in Dallas County Schools we need to get out of that.' This was just part of the plan as we moved forward with it we found ourselves in a position to be ale to take on [bus services] and thats what we did," Hanks said.

DCS currently employees approximately 60 bus drivers in Weatherford. Hanks said he's confident that most, if not all, of those drivers will stay in Weatherford and work for the school district.

"I assume that if they wanted to stay with Dallas County Schools and go drive somewhere else that Dallas County Schools would allow that, but more than likely they're going to stay with us."

Acting DCS Superintendent Leatha Mullins said while they were disappointed, Weatherford's decision will have little impact on the DCS budget.

“I talked with Weatherford officials and although we are disappointed, we understand the need to bring the transportation services in-house," said Mullins. "It was part of the plan all along for Weatherford to be phased out and because it is one of a few clients that owns its buses, this decision has minimal impact on the budget."

Losing the Weatherford contract means a loss of $1.3 million per year -- a relatively small amount for DCS. Still, with the agency running out of cash every dollar counts.

"It does highlight the need for us to move quickly to resolve our financial situation. My efforts are totally focused on that goal," Mullins said. "We’ve been working around the clock to complete the audit so the financial plan can move forward and are optimistic it will be ready for Board approval next month."

Weatherford may not be the only district to leave DCS. The Lancaster and Coppell ISDs have put their contracts up for bid and DeSoto said they are considering doing the same thing though they are "continuing to talk with DCS about improved service."

NBC 5 Investigates announced last month that Dallas ISD, the biggest district DCS supports, plans to bid out its Choice and Magnet routes.

If DCS loses any of those contracts it will only add to the dire financial situation.

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