Letter: Don't farm out Barnum busing
January 12, 2024
The Barnum bus drivers continue to struggle with being short-staffed. The ultimate solution would be to hire two additional bus drivers. The district is considering an alternative solution that is concerning the bus drivers and the community. The district is proposing to sell its bus fleet to a private busing company.
Most of the current drivers are Barnum graduates and/or have children connecting them to the district. They care about our school and our children, but are unwilling to work for a private for-profit company, as they will lose their pensions, benefits, and their connection to the school district, and they are not looking to work for a company that can change their hours and force them to work in the summer, and that leaves them with an unknown future with an unknown company.
We are concerned that the district is considering moving forward with this. This company currently operates in these local districts: Cromwell, Carlton, and Floodwood (where they are also urgently hiring). Moose Lake schools considered this move a few years back and decided it wasn’t for them as well. If the district moves in this direction, they will lose all control over transportation. They will no longer have their own buses; this would make it very difficult to undo this deal if it doesn’t work out or if the company can’t provide the drivers they say they can. My concerns would be about who will be driving our children, and that our current bus drivers will leave, the district will be further short-staffed, and the school will have no control over routes, background checks, drivers, discipline, expectations, and bus conditions. If you have a concern about your child you would no longer be addressing it with the school — you would have to put your trust in this private company which doesn’t have enough drivers for its current districts.
If you share in this concern, please attend the Barnum board meeting at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 23. If you would like to speak at the meeting, please contact the district office before the deadline.
Also, if you know of anyone who would be interested in driving a bus for Barnum, have them contact the district office.
The drivers just signed on with a fair contract for the first time in years; thank you to all who supported this effort.
Writer John Peura is a Barnum bus driver, and is supported by fellow drivers Eric Bigelow, Brian Butterfield,
Caleb Harju, Dave Jezierski and Bob Kisler