TWIN FALLS — The Twin Falls School District is keeping its school bus company for another five years.
The school board unanimously approved a $2 million contract Monday night with Mid Columbia Bus Co. It goes into effect July 1.
The school district put out a request for proposals at the end of January, operations director Ryan Bowman said. Eight companies requested information and two submitted bids.
In response to trustee concerns about a lack of bids, Superintendent Brady Dickinson said he expected a few bids, but receiving only two wasn’t surprising.
“Part of the challenge for companies is the geographic location,” he said. “If you don’t already have the means within the region, it’s probably cost prohibitive to put a competitive bid out.”
A seven-member school transportation committee unanimously recommended awarding the contract to Mid Columbia Bus Co. The other bid was from First Student, headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio, at $2.1 million.
Several representatives from Mid Columbia Bus Co. were in attendance at Monday night’s school board meeting and thanked the school board.
Western States Bus Services, a part of Mid Columbia Bus Co., has provided busing for the Twin Falls School District for more than 20 years. The district’s latest contract with the company is slated to end later this year.
Because the terms of the five-year contract say it can be extended for five years, the contract has lasted 10 years, and the school district was required to go out to bid.
In 2015, the Twin Falls school board sent a letter to Western States Bus Services with a list of grievances: late routes, lack of communication with parents and drivers not dealing with problems on their buses.
The district hinted it would drop its contract with the bus company unless the problems were fixed. By fall 2015, operations were back on track, school officials said that year.
CTE and CSI
Heard a presentation about career and technical education from College of Southern Idaho executive vice president Todd Schwarz. The school district is looking into how to expand and enrich its Career and Technical Education programs, Dickinson told the school board before the presentation.
There’s a long history of collaboration between the school district and CSI, Schwarz said. About 10 years ago, CSI paid for the welding instructor at the Twin Falls High, he said, and invested significantly in equipment. It also collaborated with the school district on a high school manufacturing program.
CTE programs provide another option for students who may not want to earn a baccalaureate degree, Schwarz said. They’re typically elective classes in high school, while students in college CTE programs are often working toward a technical certificate or associate degree.
At CSI, there are “beautiful facilities that are not as full as we’d like them to be,” Schwarz said, and he’d like to see that change.
There’s a program underway now that allows high school seniors to take CTE classes at CSI’s Twin Falls campus and receive financial assistance. Only three students took advantage of that this year, Schwarz said, but he hopes for 40 next year.
High school counselors have talked with students, and some factors for not participating include the cost and wanting to stay on their high school campus, said L.T. Erickson, secondary programs director for the school district.
In response to a question from a board member about four-year degree offerings in Twin Falls, Schwarz said CSI is exploring the possibility of offering two bachelor degrees starting in 2019: in teacher education and food processing.
“It will be a bit of an uphill battle,” he said, adding there could be accreditation issues with that proposal and four-year universities have expressed concerns.
CSI plans to submit a proposal for the two degree programs to the Idaho State Board of Education within the next week or two, Schwarz said. But he said CSI doesn’t have any plans to become a four-year university.
During Monday night’s meeting, trustees also:
- Recognized employees of the month: Sixth/seventh grade math teacher Steve Hill and attendance secretary Abril Deyanira Guzman from Robert Stuart Middle School, and science teacher Desiree Montoya and Sandra Garrity from South Hills Middle School.
- Decided to split funds from an “Economic Trust” 50-50 between Twin Falls and Canyon Ridge high schools. It also approved a process schools will use to award the funds. The trust was set up in the 1950s with $5,000 and it has grown over the years, Erickson said. It’s used to provide higher education scholarships for high school seniors who take business classes.
- Awarded a total of $75,307.57 in janitorial supply bids: $37,476.95 to WCP Solutions, $27,491.92 to Gem State Paper, $544.74 to Hanson Janitorial, $2,421.36 to Pyramid School Products, $730.95 to Brady Industries, $6,321.80 to Central Poly Corp. and $319.85 to Waxie Sanitary Supply.
- Awarded a total of $5,204.29 in general/office supply bids: $524.74 to Quill Corporation, $28 to Caxton Printers, $2,325.77 to Pyramid School Products, $16.20 to National Art & School Supplies, $686.40 to Liberty Flags and $1,623.18 to Standard Stationery Supply.
- Awarded a total of $96,242.22 in paper supply bids: $86,286.32 to Contract Paper Group and $9,955.90 to Pyramid School Products.