Parish school board to revisit bus decision

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 28, 2010

VIDALIA — The issue of who will drive Concordia Parish’s school busses will be revisited at the Concordia Parish School Board’s June meeting.

Last Thursday, the school board split a vote 4-4 on the decision of whether to renew the school district’s bussing contract with Durham School Services.

By the board’s meeting operating rules, a tied vote means the motion fails.

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If the contract is not renewed before school starts, the school district will have to find other drivers and utilize busses it owns, Superintendent Loretta Blankenstein said.

“It is ultimately a board decision, but what I would think is we would have to use our activity busses to allow our contract drivers who have been using Durham busses to drive,” she said.

“I would really hate that because we bought the activity busses for student activity trips.”

The district would also have to consider staggering the starting times for schools, and bus drivers might have to run double routes, Blankenstein said.

The ultimate goal is to get children to school safely, she said.

“Finding 24 drivers at the last minute would certainly be a task that would be very difficult if not impossible,” she said.

Board members who voted against renewing the contract cited what they though was unfair compensation of Durham drivers as opposed to the district’s contract drivers.

But without the Durham contract, the school district will lose access to many of the busses and drivers it currently uses, and so Blankenstein said the matter has been placed on the agenda for the next meeting.

The current Durham contract expires July 31.

“We have presented our information to the board members in committee meetings in the past, and perhaps there was something they may have missed due to an absence,” Blankenstein said.

“We are going to present our information at the board meeting and see what questions they may have at the meeting.”

The superintendent said she hopes the board will vote for the Durham contract.

Currently, the school district has 12 contract drivers who own their own busses, and seven more contract drivers drive Durham busses, Blankenstein said.

Durham employs 24 additional drivers in the parish.

The contract negotiations should not affect the district’s summer school program, Blankenstein said.

The summer school students who ride the busses are being transported on the school district’s activity busses and driven by contract drivers, Durham drivers and a contract driver who drives a Durham bus.