published Friday, March 22nd, 2013

Hamilton County school board reaches four-year busing contract

Hamilton County Department of Education headquarters
Hamilton County Department of Education headquarters
Photo by John Rawlston /Chattanooga Times Free Press.
OTHER BUSINESS

At Thursday's meeting, the school board also approved a naming committee's recommendation for the STEM school: STEM School Chattanooga.

The Hamilton County school board approved a new busing agreement that should save taxpayers about $2 million.

The board unanimously voted during its meeting Thursday to accept a new four-year agreement with Durham School Services, which will provide about 184 buses to county schools. The county is projected to pay about $45.2 million -- about $500,000 less per year compared to its current agreement with Durham, Transportation Supervisor Ben Coulter said.

Under the current agreement, which ends July 1, the county pays Durham $308.70 per bus each day. As part of the new agreement, the county will pay Durham $300.98 per bus each day. That rate will increase 1.8 percent each year through the end of the contract. So in the 2014-15 school year, the county will pay $306.40 per bus each day, and then the next year it will pay $311.92.

In January, the school board received a bid from Durham for about $45.6 million over four years, but district administrators recommended the board continue to negotiate and drive the price down.

Superintendent Rick Smith said that in the last two months Durham has agreed to a new element in the contract. Every year, the company will provide new buses to Hamilton County Schools.

"[Our negotiations] saved us a considerable amount of money," Smith said, "and it requires 14 new buses per year through the life of the contract. In time, we would have had to do something about the buses."

On Thursday, Coulter pointed to a new agreement on paying for gas as a key money-saver for the county. Before, he said, Durham would pay $2.17 per gallon of gas, and the county would cover the rest of the cost. In this new contract, Durham will pay $3.06 per gallon -- a difference of $0.89.

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