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Natchez schools still negotiating with bus provider

NATCHEZ — The Natchez Adams School District is still negotiating with Durham School Services to provide busing for the district when classes resume Sept. 9 after state auditors told the school district the previous contract that expired June 30 was unacceptable.

Board attorney Bruce Kuehnle told board members Aug. 19 that state auditors said a clause in the contract that requires the district to pay Durham even if services are not being provided to the district is not allowable.

“Bruce Kuehnle is negotiating with the lawyers from Durham,” said Tony Fields, public engagement coordinator for NASD on Wednesday.

Kuehnle updated the board on the progress during a special-called board meeting Tuesday.

Natchez Adams School district will begin fall classes on Sept. 9, and Fields said a majority of the district’s students have opted to do online virtual classes only.

Still, busing will be necessary for the remainder of students who will be attending in-person classes on a hybrid schedule.

“There will still be a need for buses,” Fields said, “because we still have to get meals out to students and hard copy material delivered to students who are at home.”

A contingency plan in place to have alternate means of transportation, Fields said, but the goal is to have an agreement reached by the end of the week.

Kuehnle told board members on Aug. 19 that he hopes to find “some middle ground” that is not in violation in preparing a new contract with Durham.

Under the previous contract, Durham provides it own fleet of buses, and the school district sold it dated fleet at auction. Also under the previous contract, Durham leases a space in the NASD barn for Durham’s buses.