Education

Belleville schools sign up for new option in bus service

In this April 2017 file photo, a woman walks from a bus on the First Student, Inc., lot on Mascoutah Avenue in Belleville.
In this April 2017 file photo, a woman walks from a bus on the First Student, Inc., lot on Mascoutah Avenue in Belleville. News-Democrat file photo

On Tuesday night, the Belleville District 118 School Board voted to begin a new arrangement for its school bus service.

Board members approved an agreement with Belleville District 201, which decided to start running its own transportation for Belleville East, Belleville West and the feeder schools in its boundaries. The agreement begins next school year and ends after the 2019-2020 school year.

Students from the 11 schools in District 118 will make up about 25 percent of the bus routes, the same amount as six other districts in the agreement combined. District 201’s students comprise the remaining 50 percent.

District 201 is also offering bus services to High Mount 116, Wolf Branch 113, Pontiac 105, Belle Valley 119, Grant 110 and Whiteside 115.

Because of District 118’s size, it will reimburse District 201 for costs such as drivers’ pay, according to Assistant Superintendent Ryan Boike. He said District 118 will also purchase its own fleet of buses.

“When we file our transportation claim (to the state,) the reimbursement model is a little bit better if you own and operate your own buses than if you pay a contract,” Boike said.

Superintendent Matt Klosterman said the state hasn’t reimbursed District 118 yet this school year for costs including transportation and special education. The state owes the district $3.1 million, according to Klosterman, which is 8 percent of its $38 million budget.

Usually private bus companies aren’t in business to lose money. They make money. Our goal is to save the district as much as we can.

Ryan Boike, Belleville District 118 assistant superintendent

Based on research, Boike said the “conservative number” for District 118’s estimated savings under the agreement with District 201 compared to its previous contract with First Student, Inc., is $420,000 per year. The actual savings could vary because of things like bus routes that the district might need to add, he said.

“Usually private bus companies aren’t in business to lose money. They make money,” Boike said. “Our goal is to save the district as much as we can.”

District 201, which will have a fleet of its own and will employ the transportation staff, expects to see a savings between $400,000 and $500,000 annually, according to officials.

“Why would anybody want to take on all of the headaches of that kind of system when somebody else could be doing that other than we’re going to try to save a lot of money and provide the service as efficiently as (what’s) being offered now?” Klosterman said.

Other business

In other business, the District 118 School Board hired a replacement for Kelly Harter, the West Junior High School Dean of Students, who is leaving in July to become Westhaven Elementary School’s new principal.

Allen Spargur, who is currently an industrial arts teacher at Central Junior High School, will be the new dean of students at West Junior High starting next school year.

Board members also approved $1 million in contracts for asbestos abatement and window and door replacements at various schools, including Douglas School, Henry Raab School, Roosevelt School, Jefferson School, Union School, Abraham Lincoln School and West Junior High School.

The district entered into contracts with the following companies:

▪  Cenpro Services, Inc., for work not to exceed $373,200.

▪  Environmental Consultants, LLC., for work not to exceed $302,141.70.

▪  General Waste Services, Inc., for work not to exceed $222,975.

▪  Talbert ICS for work not to exceed $88,520

▪  Talbert ICS for work not to exceed $20,000.

The Belleville District 118 School Board meets next at 7:30 p.m. May 16 at 105 West A St. in Belleville.

Lexi Cortes: 618-239-2528, @lexicortes

Related stories from Belleville News-Democrat

  Comments