The St. Paul school district last week awarded $15.5 million in contracts for busing in the 2013-14 school year, a $475,000 savings over the previous year.

The savings follow a restructuring of the district that has put a new emphasis on neighborhood schools.

The total number of a.m./p.m. bus routes has dropped from 338 a year ago to 311 in 2013-14.

Five bids were accepted, including one from the Hmong American Partnership, which is to be paid $871,766 to operate 20 routes. The largest contract went to First Student, which will run 140 routes at a cost to the district of about $6.9 million.

Last August, First Student was awarded 76 routes.

Missing from the list of providers was Minnesota Central School Bus.

That company began the 2012-13 school year with expanded duties, but encountered difficulties that led to it being rejected for summertime work.

Anthony Lonetree