The Roanoke School Board heard a brief report Tuesday on five crucial services outsourced by the school division.

Services related to transportation, food and nutrition, student health, substitute teacher hiring and crossing guards are all provided to Roanoke City Public Schools by outside companies.

The school division has partnered with Mountain Valley Transportation since 2009. Amid the recession, the rationale was to cut costs related to bus purchasing and maintaining an aging fleet. Mountain Valley has 163 buses in its fleet with an average age of 5.3 years as of Dec. 1, according to the school division. It transports about 8,000 students a day, and bills the division based on a flat rate.

Roanoke City Public Schools’ current contract with Mountain Valley Transportation — a six-year deal — is set to expire after the school year. Now, Deputy Superintendent Dan Lyons told the school board, central office is “going to see what other companies have to offer.” A request for proposal was released Monday.

Proposals are due Feb. 15. School system administration expects a contract will be ready for presentation to the school board by March 29, according to the request for proposal.

Last school year, the school division paid the company about $11.7 million for services, including field trips, mid-day runs, after-school and activity routes, and summer school programs.

The new request for proposal will require vendors to provide all of the data school divisions must report to the state department of education. Municipal Auditor Drew Harmon’s office had recommended the requirement be included.

Harmon also suggested the request for proposals mandate pricing based on operating costs per mile, rather than a flat rate to offer clearer costs comparisons with other school divisions in Virginia.

Food service

Food service is the most recent service selected for outsourcing by the division, beginning in 2016 through a contract with Sodexo.

Last school year, the division paid about $8.4 million to the company.

Since the partnership, the division has expanded culinary programming. For instance, a Future Chef Competition allowed elementary students to submit recipes to advance from school competitions to a cook -off held at William Fleming High.

The first place winner’s recipe was sent to a regional competition hosted by Sodexo.

Crossing Guards

The school division has contracted with Ellis Enterprises, Inc. and FenderGuard Service since 2011.

A program formerly managed by the Roanoke Police Department, crossing guards aid children near roads and walkways and direct traffic. The school division has 28 crossing sites that cover 15 elementary schools, five middle schools and a bus stop, Lyons said.

This school year, the division pays an hourly rate of $17.47. The total cost was $171,520 a year ago for all services, including summer programming.

Substitute teachers

Source4Teachers has partnered with the division since 2015 to fill substitute positions. Lyons said the monthly fill rate has remained consistently high over the past three years, although improvements to the economy have caused some issues.

The fill rate was 86 percent last month, compared to 92 percent in November of 2017.

Health services

Carilion Clinic has provided student nursing services since 2011. As a result of the partnership, Carilion can place nurses on a clinic salary scale and offer year-round employment that the school division can’t provide.

Last school year, the division paid $1.9 million to Carilion for nursing services, a small decline from the prior year as a result of a Roanoke Valley-wide nursing shortage that caused two positions to remain unfilled for the majority of the school year, Lyons said.

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