ARMAGH — The United School District will have a new transportation contractor after the board approved a 12-year contract at Tuesday’s meeting.
Northern Cambria-based Tri County Transportation Inc. will provide transportation services for the district’s students beginning with the 2014-15 school year through June 30, 2026.
Tri County currently is providing 12-year transportation services to the Purchase Line, Northern Cambria, Portage, Punxsutawney Area, Penns Manor Area and Cambria Heights school districts, said Tri County Vice President Bob Koban. The company provides such a lengthy contract “so we can provide good service to the school,” he said.
“It’s actually becoming more common to be efficient,” added Tri County President Jerry Tibbott. “It’s to obviously keep costs down and spread things out over a long period of time, and be able to offer the same service.”
Tri County will be establishing a new base in the district, Koban said.
Board President Don Davis couldn’t provide the cost of the service or an estimate of savings to the district, as details still need to be worked out with Tri County and solicitor Ron Saffron. The services are contingent upon the completion of a mutually agreeable contract no later than Feb. 19. He said he doesn’t believe there’s going to be any problem working out any details.
The district’s contract with Krise Bus Service Inc. is up at the end of the current school year. United is in its second five-year contract with Krise, according to Davis. He was unable to provide contractual figures for Krise, citing “a lot of variables” that go into mileage, state reimbursement, etc.
“As always, in these times of budget concerns, we were looking to provide the best service at the best price for our taxpayers and our students,” he said.
The board asked both companies to give a presentation, “and it’s our opinion that although they’ll both provide excellent service that financially, this was a little bit better deal for us.”
Davis said he believes “everything is state of the art” in terms of the services Tri County provides.
“Safety is very important to us,” Tibbott said. While nothing is “completely new out there” since everything now is up to state specifications, he said Tri County was one of the first in the state to put strobe lights and front crossing and side stop arms on the buses before they were mandatory. He added that they do try to stay up to date with any new technology as well, and said they offer a “very nice fleet of buses, all properly equipped,” and cameras are installed on all buses.
As for the district’s current bus drivers, Tibbott said the company welcomes them over to Tri County.
“We actually even have a sign-up, a place to bring them over and welcome them into our company,” he said.
Davis said that if at any time there’s a problem, or if Tri County isn’t providing the services agreed upon, the district is not locked into the 12-year agreement.
“But based on interviews we’ve done with other districts that have Tri County, and our interviews with (Tibbott and Koban), we don’t see that as a problem,” he said.
Also Tuesday, the board approved an addendum to the Oct. 1, 2013, managed technology services contract to add website management by ARIN Intermediate Unit 28 at $3,500 prorated to the term remaining on the existing managed technology services contract.
Also approved was an agreement between the district and Computer CenterLine Technologies Inc. for $29,513.73 for the core switch project, to be funded within the existing 2013-14 technology services department budget.
The core switch project is an upgrade for the district’s existing hardware, Davis said.
A lot of the equipment is 10 or 12 years old, and the project is “going to bring us a solution to basically replace some of our end-of-life core switch infrastructure.” ARIN technology director Joshua Muscatello said at January’s meeting that a core switch project usually runs $60,000 to $70,000, so the district will see some substantial savings in that area.