South Carolina Cuts State Position, Still Considers Privatization

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As talks of state-wide school bus privatization continue, a total of 50 employees at the South Carolina State Education Department have either been let go or have left since May, according to officials.

The workers, who equal about 13 percent of the Education Department’s non-transportation workers, have seen their positions either eliminated or absorbed into other departments. Still, operations continuing to run smoothly, according to spokesman Jay Ragley.

The shake-up comes in the midst of continuing discussions that began during Gov. Nikki Haley’s run for office and culminated with a call for privatized school busing during her inaugural speech in January. NSTS supports the movement but with caution. Moving from the only entirely state-owned fleet in the nation to a completely contracted one would be a large task and not something that could be completed by the beginning of the upcoming 2011-2012 school year.

Magda Dimmendaal, NSTA’s incoming president this month, also told STN in June that the association also is recommending that local school systems be allowed to select the right contractor for them rather than mandating one state-wide bid.

The state is currently reviewing information on privatization, including the “2011 School Bus Vehicle Management and Maintenance Services Pilot Project” report by TransPar Group.