The Rockford School Board voted 5-2 in favor of a bid from Ohio-based First Student to outsource its bus driver jobs.
The bid was around $35.7 million over three years, according to the Rockford Register Star. If the bid is accepted, Rockford Public Schools would retain control of its fleet and bus routes. Current bus drivers would be hired at existing pay and benefit levels, but they no longer would pay into the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund.
The outsourcing bid comes amid continuing contract negotiations between RPS and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), the bus drivers' union. Drivers went on strike for three days in March over these talks, where they were joined by food service workers and paraprofessionals.
Both RPS and AFSCME have a mediation session scheduled May 15. Outsourcing could be averted if the two parties reach a new agreement, or if AFSCME accepts the district's "last, best offer."