UPDATE: Hamilton County school board approves contract with Durh - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

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UPDATE: Hamilton County school board approves contract with Durham School Services

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -

UPDATE: The Hamilton County school board voted to keep Durham School Services on its payroll Thursday night.

Board members voted unanimously to approve a 2-year contract with Durham.

Durham School Services is responsible for about 80% of the school buses in Hamilton County. 

November's crash, that killed six Woodmore Elementary students, forced the company to review its policies.

Durham CEO David Duke presented a list of changes to put into place since the crash. They include a new online complaint system that Duke claims has resulted in a 70% drop in the number of complaints. 

Duke said the company has seen an improvement in driving behavior after installing SMART cameras and adding bus monitors to it's Hamilton County fleet. 

The company also increased entry level pay for drivers by 13-percent bringing the total to $15/hour.

Stay with WRCBtv.com for updates to this story. 


PREVIOUS STORY: Durham School Services is responsible for about 80% of the school buses in Hamilton County. 

Which is why district leaders weren't surprised when no one replied to the county's request to take on the job.

Eventually, the district wants to steer away from using a private company and employ more owner-operators to help transport the 20,000 students who ride buses.

District 4 School Board member Tiffanie Robinson believes that may be why no other companies applied.

"This may be only for two years and we are changing the number of routes that we're going to give this company and so from a business stand point, I see that as, yeah, that's going to automatically detour," she said.

November's deadly crash forced Durham to take a look at it's policies. 

CEO David Duke presented a list of changes to put into place since the crash.

READ MORE | UPDATE: Hamilton Co. school board members consider several options for school buses

They include a new online complaint system that Duke claims has resulted in a 70% drop in the number of complaints.

But Robinson and Kathy Lennon, who represents District 2, believe the system could be better.

"There's a concern if you're a parent and you have a complaint, how you go about doing that. That has to be very important," Lennon said.

"Whenever there is a barrier between the person complaining and the person that complaint needs to get to, I see that as a pretty big barrier where things just get lost in translation," Robinson added.

Duke also said the company has seen an improvement in driving behavior after installing SMART cameras and adding bus monitors to it's Hamilton County fleet. 

Improvements board members plan to hold Durham accountable to.

The company also increased entry level pay for drivers by 13-percent bringing the total to $15/hour.

The school board has agreed to continue doing business with Durham but will have to vote on the terms of a formal contract in the next few weeks.

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