Roanoke City Public Schools hopes to complete negotiations with a transportation provider and present a contract to board members in April after considering offers from three companies.
The division has outsourced transportation to Mountain Valley Transportation, a subsidiary of Krapf Bus Cos., since 2009. But Mountain Valley’s current contract ends June 30.
Mountain Valley and three other companies submitted offers to transport students and school employees, provide drivers, and provide and maintain buses and vans through a five-year contract. A request for proposal was posted in December and proposals were due Feb. 15.
Only proposals from Mountain Valley and two other companies are still under consideration, said Deputy Schools Superintendent Dan Lyons.
The two other companies are North America Central School Bus and Durham School Services, a division of National Express LLC, Lyons said.
The companies’ offers are judged by school administrators based on several factors, including bus maintenance and staffing strategies, rate and fee structure and related experience, according to the division’s request for proposal posted in December.
The school division must negotiate with the company with the top offer, according to state procurement regulations, schools spokesman Justin McLeod said.
The division hopes to complete negotiations with the top-ranked company and submit a contract to the school board prior to its next meeting, McLeod said.
North America Central School Bus was founded in 2004 and provides services to 120 communities, according to its website. The company operates 3,000 buses and vans in eight states: Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Missouri, Kansas, Massachusetts and Idaho.
Durham School Services traces its history back to 1917 as a three-bus company in California, according to its website. Durham School Services said it serves more than 400 school districts in 31 states in the U.S.
National Express LLC is the North American subsidiary of National Express Group PLC, a large transportation firm in the United Kingdom.
Mountain Valley transports about 8,000 Roanoke students per day and bills the division based on a flat rate. The division paid the company about $11.7 million last school year for services including field trips, midday runs, after-school programs and other activities, and summer school programs.
Mountain Valley has 163 buses in its fleet with an average age of 5.3 years, and employs about 150 drivers, according to the school division.
Outsourcing transportation to private companies is uncommon in Southwest Virginia. Roanoke elected to outsource during the recession in an attempt to cut costs related to bus purchasing and maintaining an aging fleet.
Vehicles must meet all requirements of the Virginia Department of Education and Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles. The companies are responsible for maintenance. The school division provides fuel at its transportation facility.
Roanoke also outsources food and nutrition, student health, substitute teacher and crossing guard hiring.