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Bus company cut out of summer-school mix in St. Paul

  • Article by: Anthony Lonetree
  • Star Tribune
  • March 20, 2013 - 5:10 PM

 

The St. Paul school district has rejected a bus company’s bid for summertime work after it failed to deliver on expanded duties this school year.

Minnesota Central School Bus began 2012-13 with high hopes, having seen its contracted routes jump from two a year ago to 84 at the start of September.

But the company had a rough first day of school, and would see the district steer about one-third of its routes elsewhere and levy $39,465 in fines against a contract now worth about $3.6 million.

Michael Baumann, district deputy of schools and business operations, said Wednesday that the company’s performance was “marginally better” after the route reduction, but still not up to district standards.

A company spokesman could not be reached for comment.

In a written recommendation to school board members Tuesday, district administrators noted that while Minnesota Central School Bus handled 18 percent of district routes, it was responsible for nearly half of district-wide performance issues that included missed routes and delays of 20 minutes or more.

The board authorized contracts with five companies in a vote that specifically excluded Minnesota Central School Bus from the summer transportation mix.

This year, the company opened a depot in St. Paul to help meet heightened demands, but ran into difficulties at the start of the school year due to inexperience with routes as well as problems with GPS tracking systems and road construction, a district spokeswoman said at the time.

At one elementary school, students had to wait 2 1/2 hours at day’s end on the first day of school.

Although its bid for summer work was rejected, Minnesota Central School Bus still could submit a proposal for the 2013-14 school year, Baumann said. The administration would wait until bids are received before making a recommendation, he added.

The district is expected to award next year’s bus contracts sometime this summer.

 

Anthony Lonetree • 651-925-5036

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