Students in the Lonedell R-XIV School District will be riding locally provided and serviced buses for at least the next five years after the district’s board of education approved a new five-year deal with BK Bus Co.
BK Bus is located in Lonedell and has been providing transportation services for R-XIV for more than 50 years, and action during the board’s March meeting keeps that pact in tact.
“I’m happy with this,” R-XIV Superintendent Fred VanBibber told The Missourian. “Obviously, this is an expense to the district, but at the same time, BK Bus takes a lot of work away from the district by providing the service.”
The five-year deal calls for the contracted price currently in place to remain the same for the 2013-14 academic year and for BK Bus to receive a 2 percent increase for services in each of the subsequent four years.
Currently, the contract calls for the company to provide 10 daily routes on 174 scheduled school days for $402,479.56. A 2 percent increase equates to about $8,000.
“This deal locks us in for the next five years,” Lonedell Board of Education President Kathy Reed told The Missourian. “It was a good decision for us and now is something we don’t have to be concerned about for quite a while.”
In February, Wayne and Judy Wagner, owners of the company, appeared before Lonedell school board members. At that time, they were asked to 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.
During that meeting, the Wagners also discussed bus routes and answered questions. They provided 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.
District personnel opted not to go that route.
A year ago, the Lonedell school board approved a renegotiated one-year service contract with BK Bus 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, VanBibber said that Lonedell and BK Bus “will be looking at routes to see what other cost-saving measures can be accomplished.”
That discussion, as well as the discussion that took place in February of this year, led to the new five-year contract approved by the board members in March.
Before last year’s deal was approved, the contracted price was $43,500 higher than the current deal.
“This is a win-win for the district and BK Bus,” VanBibber said. “It keeps the contract with a company in the area.”
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 in future years.
There is language in the contract that states if Lonedell’s enrollment drops below 275, the agreement will be reviewed.