UPDATE: Hamilton County School Board approves bus contract with new vendor
UPDATE: The Hamilton County school board has officially chosen a new company to handle the school system's bus transportation services.
On Thursday, the board voted to approve a contract with First Student.
This means Hamilton County Schools will part ways with Durham School Services, the company currently providing bus transportation.
Durham and First Student were the only companies that submitted bids for the job.
First Student is based out of Cincinnati, Ohio, and will cost about $11-million. That's about $1-million more than Durham's price.
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PREVIOUS STORY: Hamilton County school board members will vote on First Student's bus contract on Thursday evening. Going into the vote, Superintendent Dr. Bryan Johnson said all he can do is make a recommendation.
"I never enter into something our board has to take action on thinking about it being a slam dunk," Dr. Johnson said.
But some board members expressed they are ready for the change.
"I am excited for the new partnership; I think it was time for us to make a change. I'm glad we had the option to be able to do that," Karitsa Jones said.
Jones is the school board representative for District 5. Jones said that she thinks the new company will provide peace of mind.
"We're going to have some new equipment, so the latest and some of the most technically accurate safety equipment on all those buses," Joe Smith, District 3 board member, said.
But the new equipment will come with a bigger price tag. The contract states it's an $11 million three-year contract, with a chance of a one-year extension. That's $1 million more than their contract with Durham.
According to the bus rates in the contract, it will cost about $403 dollars per day to run buses.
"Insurance is higher today than it was a year ago. Gasoline is higher today than it was a year ago, and with new equipment and new technology, just like everything else, the cost is going to continue to rise," Smith said.
Part of that new technology would include a minimum of six cameras on each bus and the FirstView App that will allow parents to track buses in real time.
Also, in the contract, the district will also design bus routes.
Dr. Johnson said especially after the Woodmore bus crash several years ago, this bus contract isn't a decision made lightly.
"In particular, in a community where there has been such significant tragedy around transportation. When you have that, it weighs heavy on everybody," Dr. Johnson added.