Concordia Parish seeks new school bus contract

Published 7:00 am Saturday, February 11, 2023

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

VIDALIA, La. — The Concordia Parish School Board is now seeking a new school bus contract to replace its existing contract with Durham School Services.

While the existing contract expires on July 31, both the rising cost and the age of the buses in use have prompted the district to go in a new direction, officials said.

Tom O’Neal, the school board’s director of business affairs, said the cost to run school buses with Durham increased to approximately $1.4 million this fiscal year from approximately $1.32 million last year and that the rate fluctuates from year to year.

Email newsletter signup

The school board unanimously approved a Request for Proposals Thursday for a new bus contract after reviewing their options.

Derrick Carson, chairman of the Building and Grounds Committee, said in their committee meeting board members looked at doing “a cost-benefit analysis” of what a new bus contract would cost versus the school board leasing buses and running its own bus service again.

The RFP specifies that all of the buses need to meet and be maintained according to state standards and equipment must include — at a minimum — cameras, GPS tracking, heating and air-conditioning, PA systems, radio communications, and have a maximum age limit of 10 years old.

“One of the issues we have now is our buses are old and they’re not changing them out quickly enough,” Carson said.

Currently, the contract with Durham says the age of the buses cannot exceed 12 years old.

In other matters during Thursday’s meeting, the school board discussed resurfacing football fields at Vidalia and Ferriday high schools. The board previously considered artificial turf for the fields, but the $1.5 million to $2.5 million price tag per field for artificial turf caused the board to lean in another direction.

It’s estimated resodding the fields with natural grass would cost around $250,000, according to Marco Gonzales, project manager with Volkert Inc.

Gonzales said that he and a contractor recently visited both schools in the rain while water was puddling up on the fields. The scope of work includes scraping off the top of the fields, re-grading them with necessary drainage, reinstalling sprinkler systems and resodding the fields so they would be level again.

“If you want to get them done by this football season, we’re a little behind the 8-ball on that,” Gonzales said, suggesting that the board meet sooner rather than later to make a decision.

The Building and Grounds Committee plans to meet after Mardi Gras break on Feb. 23 to go over the football field plans and make a proposal to the board at their next scheduled meeting on March 16.