Kent County Public Schools is reaching out to local contractors and plans on purchasing more than a dozen school buses in an effort to assuage widespread student transportation concerns that have marred the start of the school year.
According to MyEasternShoreMD,
Monday night, the Kent County Board of Education authorized Superintendent Karen Couch to negotiate the cancellation of its student transportation agreement with an outside contractor and the purchase of district’s buses. The number of buses the district needs to buy has not been finalized as negotiations with previous local contractors continue.
Earlier this year, the Board of Education put the bus contract out to bid, hoping to save money on student transportation. Low bidder Reliable Transportation of Baltimore was awarded the contract, taking over the bus routes at the beginning of the current school year.
The company had a terrible start, with widespread reports of buses being late, failing to pick up students and breaking down. The situation boiled over at a Sept. 11 Board of Education meeting, during which parents and community members voiced complaints — at times shouting from the standing room-only crowd — for nearly five hours.
Superintendent Couch conceded that the contract with Reliable Transportation is no longer tenable. The district is working to ensure a smooth transition to a new student transportation plan.
District Operations Supervisor, Joe Wheeler, said the district will acquire twelve standard school buses and two special needs school buses to help streamline the new student transportation plan. The Kent County BOE is piggy-backing off a recently awarded Washington County contract, a common procurement procedure whereby a government agency utilizes a contract previously put out to bid and awarded by another jurisdiction.
At a meeting Tuesday night, the district presented their plan to the Kent County Commissioners.
“For whatever it’s worth, I know it’s been difficult times. But I think — what little I know — I think you’re on the right track. I think it’s a good move to get that taken care of. Kudos to you,” Commissioner Ron Fithian told Couch.
The district received permission from the commissioners to park some buses at the Kent County Public Works facility on Morgnec Road just outside Chestertown. The buses also will be allowed to refuel through the county’s bulk purchasing program.
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