As the committee charged with unspooling and winding down operations for Dallas County Schools continues to churn along, Dallas Independent School District is also getting its ducks — or rather, buses — in a row.
At last week’s board briefing, trustees were introduced to the district’s new executive director of transportation, Dr. Kayne Smith, who arrives in Dallas from a stint at Beaumont ISD.
Smith and deputy superintendent of operations Scott Layne answered questions and explained how plans for the district’s new transportation efforts are continuing to take shape.
The district — and eight other districts — found itself tasked with crafting its own transportation system after voters opted to shutter the embattled DCS last November. The agency — which provided buses and crossing guards for Dallas ISD, has been the object of intense scrutiny and at least three people involved in controversial business deals are now under federal investigation, including former DCS superintendent Rick Sorrells.
Layne told trustees at last week’s board briefing that staffing the drivers it will need to run the many routes a large urban school district requires is chugging along. The district only just started recruiting and is about 140 applicants shy of what it needs.
“We’ve only been doing this for about a month, so I think the numbers look pretty good,” he said. “We’re very encouraged that we can get there.”
Layne said the district will soon participate in job fairs to help fill out its roster, but that he hopes to be fully staffed by next August when the new school year starts.
“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,” Layne said.
And while the stop-arm cameras that contributed to the demise of DCS won’t be removed from the buses, Layne says the district won’t be in the business of traffic enforcement, either.
The district initially projected it would take $54 million to create the department and run it, but Layne said the newest projection for the overall budget — $58.9 million — is still within what the district can financially bear. The district got not quite 1,000 buses from DCS.
Smith said he would like to add newer features to the transportation system, such as GPS monitoring of bus locations, and RFID cards for students swipe as they get on and off buses.
This week, the DCS dissolution committee voted to approve the sale of the agency’s building, located off I-30, to Dallas ISD for $6 million. School board meetings will move to the location, as will transportation operations and driver training.