The Jefferson City School District transportation selection committee weighed the proposals of two transportation providers while looking at desired traits in a transportation provider.
The committee, consisting of current and former district employees, board members and parents, identified things it liked about the current transportation system and what it would like to see more of.
The two bids collected during a three-week request for proposal period were from North America Central and First Student, the district's current transportation provider. Durham and Student Transportation of America did not bid and informed the district they would not be ready to begin by August.
The committee discussed the difficulties the district has been experiencing, including late buses caused by a driver shortage in a tumultuous labor market.
Working with its transportation provider, First Student, the district has tried a number of tactics to help keep buses running on time, including:
• Creating and distributing recruitment fliers.
• Training and licensing coaches as drivers.
• Purchasing suburbans for high school activity trips.
• Leasing vans.
• Hiring monitors.
• Using outside vendors for activity trips.
• Combining routes.
• Bringing in paraprofessionals to allow for early drop-off.
• Offering compensation for families to self-transport.
• Conducting studies for different types of routes.
The district pays for its own fuel, and last year reached nearly $547,000 because of the number of routes at a heightened fuel price.
The committee agreed it is looking for good communication, responsive technology, a good camera system (preferably with audio), good driver awareness and de-escalation skills, an openness to suggestions, innovation and creativity, and available staff in the office to help facilitate communication when people are driving routes.
The committee also agreed that both cost and reliability were important measures.
Frank Underwood, director of facilities, safety and transportation, told the group he wanted to hear from individuals before meeting with administrators Friday to make a determination on what to recommend to the board. The final decision on a vendor will have to go through the full school board.