Robbinsdale School Board Considers Extending Busing Contract
The Robbinsdale School Board is considering extending the contract with its bus company for another year.
The decision comes after the district experienced what it characterized as “a terrible struggle” with transportation in recent years.
Robbinsdale Area Schools has an existing contract with Durham School Services for busing.
The board discussed the contract at its Oct. 16 meeting.
Past Driver Shortages
During the 2021-2022 school year, the district had to cancel bus routes due to bus driver shortages.
Durham later paid the district a $652,058.82 settlement for missing the routes.
“The current vendor Durham was a misstep — we got what we paid for,” said Robbinsdale School Board member Kim Holmes. “Our students and our staff are paying the price.”
According to the school board’s Ad Hoc Transportation and Facility-Infrastructure Committee, the district’s bus routes are now fully staffed.
“Routes are running on time,” the committee wrote. “Neighboring districts around us are struggling to piece together several companies in order to provide transportation for students.”
Renew Bus Contract with Durham?
The transportation committee recommends that the school board renew the contract for Durham through the 2024-2025 school year rather than issue a request for proposals for a new busing company.
The committee recognized past issues with Durham.
“We acknowledge that families were hurt two years ago,” the committee wrote. “A Durham representative came and apologized to the board and the district for what happened. Reparations were paid to the district by Durham. Since then, a massive effort by Durham to hire and train drivers has us now in a place with all routes staffed and reserve drivers hired and also additional drivers in the pipeline for replacements when needed.”
Mixed Feelings On Bus Contract From Robbinsdale Board Members
Holmes said she would not support the proposal to renew Durham’s contract. She called the prospect “insulting” and said she was “deeply disappointed.”
Robbinsdale Board member Caroline Long said the district should move forward with an RFP for a new bus company this year.
“Are we just going to continue to be stagnant as a district?” she said.
John Vento, Robbinsdale School Board member, said that the district isn’t prepared to issue a long-term RFP for transportation issues right now.
“I’m not happy with where this is at,” he said. “I opposed Durham coming here in the first place. I have been supportive of the administration of being able to provide transportation as my obligation as a board member, not my personal preference.”
Robbinsdale School Board Member Sharon Brooks said the district should renew Durham’s contract.
“Every day at the same time a school bus accepts kids in front of my house,” she said. “They’re consistent, they’re on time … I’m not looking this gift horse in the mouth and slapping him.”
Robbinsdale School Board Chair Helen Bassett said the board will likely readdress the contract issue within the next two weeks.