KCPS of­fi­cially ends its con­tract with Re­li­able

Kent County News - - NEWS -

— After a brief and tu­mul­tuous re­la­tion­ship, Kent County Pub­lic Schools and Re­li­able Trans­porta­tion have come to a mu­tual de­ci­sion to can­cel the bus con­tact.

Re­li­able was to end its ser­vices at the end of the school day Fri­day, Sept. 29, KCPS Su­per­in­ten­dent Karen Couch said at an emer­gency Board of Ed­u­ca­tion meet­ing Wed­nes­day, Sept. 27. Stu­dent trans­porta­tion ser­vices were to be taken over by lo­cal con­trac­tors and dis­tric­towned buses on Mon­day.

“Start­ing the first day of the 2017-18 school year, the con­trac­tor had dif­fi­cul­ties in ful­fill­ing the terms of the bus con­tract due to un­fore­see­able cir­cum­stances that re­sulted in the con­trac­tor be­ing un­able to ful­fill some of its driver, route obli­ga­tions and mak­ing the bus con­tract no longer fea­si­ble,” Couch told board mem­bers Sept. 27.

The district put the stu­dent trans­porta­tion con­tract out to bid this year to save money. It was awarded to Re­li­able, but since the first day of school the com­pany has been plagued by wide­spread re­ports of missed stops, late buses, me­chan­i­cal is­sues and other com­plaints.

Couch said there will be a daily re­fund for the routes Re­li­able was un­able to cover and field trips it was un­able to sup­ply buses for. She said Re­li­able also will pro­vide re­im­burse­ment for district em­ploy­ees who were as­signed to ac­com­pany driv­ers on routes.

Finger­print­ing and drug test­ing, which was re­quired for the driv­ers, will be re­im­bursed back to the district, Couch said.

With Re­li­able gone, KCPS in now in the process of ac­quir­ing the amount of buses for its new fleet, Couch said.

Joe Wheeler, su­per­vi­sor of op­er­a­tions, said two spare buses were picked up Sept. 25 from Har­ford County. He said they were be­ing in­spected.

Three buses have come in from Amer­i­can Bus Sales and the rest were to be de­liv­ered by the end of last week.

Wheeler said they are wait- ing on one from Blue Bird, which will be de­liv­ered later in October.

As for driv­ers, KCPS will be us­ing a hy­brid sys­tem of driv­ers from the district and pri­vate con­trac­tors, Wheeler said. He is in the process of re­cruit­ing two driv­ers who have their per­mits. They need back­ground checks and finger­print­ing, but he said they can be ready in two weeks.

Couch said she spoke with state Sen. Steve Her­shey, R-36-Up­per Shore, at the Kent County Com­mis­sion­ers meet­ing Sept. 26. Couch said he of­fered as­sis­tance in ex­pe­dit­ing the proper cre­den­tials for driv­ers.

Wheeler said he has a driver from Mid­dle­town, Del. who ex­pressed in­ter­est in driv­ing for Kent County.

Couch said Re­li­able also will as­sist the district by as­sign­ing two driv­ers to the county for a week.

Un­til the district can find a new lo­ca­tion to store its buses, they will be parked at Kent County’s Pub­lic Works fa­cil­ity near Chestertown.

“We are just in­cred­i­bly thank­ful that we have a place to park the buses and that the county has agreed to al­low us to ac­cess fa­cil­i­ties and the fuel that we need to move for­ward. It’s def­i­nitely go­ing to help us,” Couch said.

Couch said she spoke with Amy More­dock, direc­tor of plan­ning, hous­ing and zon­ing for the county, about the need to iden­tify a per­ma­nent lo­ca­tion for buses.

“It just seems like ev­ery­thing is start­ing to hap­pen just in the last few days,” Couch said. “We def­i­nitely are go­ing to fill the po­si­tions and we are go­ing to make it work un­til we get the num­bers that we need.”

Board Pres­i­dent Tr­ish McGee thanked every­one for work they have done since a con­tentious Sept. 11 board meet­ing, at which par­ents voiced con­cerns over school buses and Re­li­able’s ser­vice, to ad­dress stu­dent trans­porta­tion.

“We all are very grate­ful for ev­ery­thing that has been done,” McGee said.

McGee, Couch and board Vice Pres­i­dent Bryan Wil­liams all thanked lo­cal bus con­trac­tors who came back to as­sist KCPS.

PHOTO BY DANIEL DIVILIO

Fri­day was ex­pected to be the last day on the job for Re­li­able Trans­porta­tion pro­vid­ing stu­dent trans­porta­tion for Kent County Pub­lic Schools. The Bal­ti­more-based com­pany has re­ceived wide­spread com­plaints from par­ents since the start of school.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.