One of the worst government bureaucracies in Texas is finally getting shut down.
In a big win for Dallas County students, taxpayers, and school districts, voters decided on Tuesday to abolish the school bus bureaucracy known as Dallas County Schools.
By a margin of 58 to 42 percent, Dallas County voters decided “against” DCS Prop A.
That vote initiates a legislatively prescribed wind-down of the taxpayer-subsidized agency that in recent years has become dangerous, unreliable, and so financially mismanaged that it’s on the verge of bankruptcy.
A dissolution committee will take over management of the agency from the DCS board starting next week. The committee will include superintendents of the nine school districts that now use DCS bus services: Dallas (the agency’s largest customer), Aledo, Carrollton-Farmers Branch, Cedar Hill, DeSoto, Highland Park, Irving, Lancaster, and Richardson.
At the end of the 2017-2018 school year, the agency’s buses and service centers will be divided among the districts. They can then decide to either operate their own bus service or contract with another company.
State Sen. Don Huffines (R-Dallas), who made abolishing DCS a top legislative priority this year, said that “residents of Dallas County can finally declare victory against the worst government bureaucracy in our state.”
“I’m proud of the broad, nonpartisan coalition that came together to ensure government is accountable and transparent, and we should all celebrate this victory. More importantly, parents, students, and schools will benefit from school buses that are safer, more reliable, and more cost effective. Truth, accountability, and taxpayer common sense have prevailed.”
The coalition supporting the shutdown included Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings, the Dallas Morning News, and Dallas school board trustees Dustin Marshall and Edwin Flores, who along with Huffines created the Protect Dallas Kids PAC. Following the vote, Marshall posted on Facebook:
“There are many terrific employees of DCS that will continue to drive buses and work in cross walks. Kids will continue to have a ride to school. We encourage all DCS personnel to remain calm and go about their jobs as usual.
“Over the coming months, DISD will be finalizing detailed plans for the future and will look forward to providing great jobs for those impacted and better, safer, more affordable bus service for the kids of DISD.”
Support for keeping the failing agency open, at taxpayer expense, came from DCS employees, bus drivers’ unions, and Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price.
DCS is still over $100 million in debt, so the agency’s one-cent ad valorem tax on all Dallas County property will continue to be collected until the debt is paid off. The agency is also under investigation by the FBI and Texas Rangers to determine if criminal activity contributed to its huge financial losses
Shutting down any government bureaucracy is an almost-insurmountable challenge; shutting down such a bad bureaucracy is, as Huffines said, “a landmark victory for Dallas County.”