Bus contract approved by School Committee

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Bus contract approved by School Committee
Hudson School Committee has approved a transportation contract with First Student. (photo/Maureen Sullivan)

HUDSON — The School Committee has voted to approve a transportation contract with First Student. 

The contract will be for three years with the option to renew twice after that point.

It will be in effect from July 1, 2024, through June 30, 2029, should the Hudson Public Schools exercise the two one-year renewals. First Student was the low bidder with a bid of $2,421,890, which is a 51% increase over the rates in fiscal year 2024.

The final price per bus will be $543.45, which is also a 51% increase from the $357.78 per bus rate in 2024. According to Director of Finance and Operations Dan Gale, they have “had First Student for the last five school years and have had a good experience with their service.”

He added in a memo, “In the weeks ahead, we will be working directly with First Student to transition our bus lot, onboard a new dispatcher and develop next year’s bus routes.”

At the March 12 School Committee meeting, Gale said the district received the bid in January, and he looked at many options, but another bid “didn’t seem likely” at this time.

“We did try to reach out to First Student and potentially negotiate some parts of the bid,” he said. “They came back with one suggested compromise.”

He said, “I think overall, it’s best to go with their initial bid, which is a very large increase.”

Gale noted that the schools will be looking at all of their options over the next couple of years to “see what makes sense.”

“It does seem to be a growing trend of conversation with a lot of the districts that recently bid,” said Gale.

Superintendent Brian Reagan said while the increase in cost was large, other districts were dealing with similar increases.

He said, “We’re within the ballpark.”

School Committee member Erica Ankstitus asked about the possibility of grants, like a similar grant of $5.8 million that Worcester received for electric buses.

Gale said that was a Federal Environmental Protection Agency grant, for which Hudson could be eligible. However, the district would have to come up with half the cost of the buses to purchase. He was open to learning more and talking to people about the grants available.

Bus storage

Reagan gave a brief update on the bus storage situation. The Department of Public Works’ plans for its new facility would not include the current storage space being used by the Hudson Public Schools.

He emphasized that the Department of Public Works property is just not an option. As the DPW facility project is set, the school district is looking forward in the search for bus storage as “it’s not helping us out to look back.”

While they “haven’t found our solution yet,” he said it was important to keep everyone up to date on what they are doing.

They learned that if the school district was to lease property, it would not have to go to Town Meeting, and they would have to put out a bid. 

He said, “We are working at putting together something there.”

Also, Reagan noted there may be properties in Hudson that would not require as long a procurement process.

He said, “We have different leads. I can’t give you any specifics tonight because of the procurement process.”

In terms of options, Reagan said, “[The Joseph Mulready Elementary School] is still our very last resort.”

 

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