Wayne and Judy Wagner said they will prepare a three-year contract extension for the Lonedell R-XIV School District so it can consider continued use of BK Bus Co. for its transportation services.
The Wagners, owners of the business, discussed bus routes and answered questions during the board of education’s February meeting.
In April 2012, the Lonedell school board approved a renegotiated service contract with BK Bus Co. that lowered costs while allowing the two entities to continue to work together on transportation within the district. At the time the contract was approved, however, R-XIV Superintendent VanBibber said that Lonedell and BK Bus “will be looking at routes to see what other cost-saving measures can be accomplished.”
The new deal called for 10 daily routes on 174 scheduled school days for $402,479.56. The contract before the renegotiation was for $445,979.40.
The current contract expires at the end of the 2012-13 academic year.
A new proposal should keep routes and prices the same, personnel on both sides said during the board meeting.
The Wagners attended the meeting with detailed maps showing each of the six elementary, three high school and one special education routes, including where buses stop on each. Judy Wagner said that on average, grade school routes take anywhere from 40 to 55 minutes to complete both before and after school and that as many as 55 children ride a bus each way each day.
Some discussion centered on whether the middle school and high school routes could be combined or if the six elementary routes could be reduced to five in an effort to save money. The Wagners said those options were possible, but doing either of them significantly would add to the amount of time students are on buses before and after school.
“You could increase ride time by 30 minutes,” Judy Wagner said.
Principal Jen Ulrich responded to that by saying, “I don’t want to lengthen the school days for kids. I think I would like the routes to remain the same.”
Wayne Wagner stated he thought there also would be more resistance from both parents and students to “crowd” buses with more passengers.
“Years ago, it was more acceptable to do that,” he said. “But times have changed.”
VanBibber reminded board members that Lonedell “pays a premium” not to be in the bus business and that BK Bus is in that business to accommodate Lonedell. He also said that he believes the current budget situation should be able to handle the same contract for the next three to four years.
BK Bus Co. is located in Lonedell along Highway 30 east of the Highway N and FF intersections.
Board members also discussed snow routes and decided the district would continue not to provide any.
When the bus contract came up for discussion a year ago, more than 50 community members attended the R-XIV board meeting to show their support for the local bus company. Because of the large number in attendance, the meeting had to be moved to the Lonedell gym.
During that March 2012 meeting, a contract extension was presented for the company to continue to serve the 300-plus student district at the same price as the current pact. However, a motion to extend it with modifications failed during that meeting as did a motion to bid out the bus contract.
Finally, a motion for the district to renegotiate the contract with BK Bus was approved.
“BK Bus was willing to continue to serve us at the same rate as before,” VanBibber told The Missourian after that March meeting. “They were willing to extend the contract at the same price. That’s what did not get the motion.”
He also said at that time that it’s the board’s “fiduciary responsibility to look at all contracts and do what’s best for the district. There’s a lot of money involved. We’re facing tough economic times. It’s our duty to look at all options and do what’s best for our community, the students and the taxpayers.”
In other business, the Lonedell school board opted to have summer school this year if funding remains available.
The structure of the sessions may be different than last year, however.
Ulrich said she would like to return summer school to feature Friday field trips that students qualify for through attendance.
“Summer school is a little different,” she said. “There has to be learning experiences, but I think it should be more fun, too.”
If summer school is conducted, it will include breakfast and lunch with free and reduced options available.
“My philosophy is to use summer school to teach but have more fun doing it,” VanBibber said. “I think we should plan for it for now, but make it dependent on funding.”
That motion was made and approved by the board.