Mark Taylor
[email protected]
The Gardner Edgerton School Board renewed a contract with First Student for bus services on Sept. 12.
The first-year contract cost is $2.198 million.
Gary Diener, director of business, said the new contract extends from Oct. 1 to June 30, 2016 with three one-year optional years.
He said previous contract rates included annual 2.5 percent increases for regular routes and 3.5 percent per year for special education routes.
The new contract rate structure includes no increase for the first year and 1 percent annual increases for all routes in the following four years.
The new contract also stipulates a fixed administrative fee of $10,000 per year for First Student regarding the collection of pay rider fees.
Previously, First Student received 50 percent of pay rider fees for administrative compensation.
For example, Diener said First Student received $35,500 of the $61,000 in pay rider fees in 2011 under the previous contract.
The new contract also requires First Student to increase local staffing by one mechanic and one office support person.
The new contract also calls for additional busses and a younger fleet.
Twelve busses will be added in 2012-13, 11 in 2013-14, and up to six in remaining years depending upon enrollment and routing needs.
The average age of busses in the fleet will not exceed eight years, compared to 11 years in the previous contract.
The renewal contract also requires First Student to install digital surveillance cameras in all busses.
Previously the school district purchased seven cameras per year. Currently, 26 busses do not have cameras.
Diener said the new contract will result in a “cost avoidance” of $96,000 for the current fiscal year.
In other business, the school board approved an out-of-state trip for the Gardner Edgerton High School Band.
The band will perform at the Heritage Festival in Chicago, departing on March 14 and returning on March 18.
Traveling will be 140 band students – including wind ensemble, symphonic band, concert band and jazz band — and 12 sponsors.
Students will raise funds for the trip working at school concession stands, community service projects, and contributing personal funds.