Bus companies who borrow county-owned buses for service when their buses are down due to repairs, was a hot topic of discussion at Tuesday’s Grainger County Board of Education meeting at Grainger High School.
Director of Schools Dr. James Atkins was under the understanding that the board had approved a $25 per trip charge after a bus had been loaned five times.
“What I’m proposing is that we charge $25 a trip and if they use a county driver, they end up paying the driver $25 a trip, too,” Atkins said. “The $25 a trip or $50 a day, I’m proposing to start that at day one.”
Atkins said it’s going to be a lot easier to keep up with instead of having a five-day grace period. The five-day grace period has been subject to misinterpretation in the past.
“If we say flat out that if a contractor needs to borrow a bus, it’s going to be $25 a trip, or $50 a day, then I think it’s very simplistic and I also think that it’s fairly fair,” he said.
The resolution died for a lack of a motion, but board member Marcus Long wanted to discuss the matter further.
“To implement a new financial strain on contractor bus drivers mid-year, I think would be kind of unfair,” Long said. “Since they already have a budget for the year, to change that mid-stride would put a financial strain on them. I do think we need to have a cost to prevent abuse, because we’ve had it (abuse of the bus borrow system) in the past.”
Transportation Director Brett Coffey referred to the 2012 resolution and said that the charge to borrow a bus was $40 a day.
“It just says $40 per day,” Coffey said. “I’m just going to be honest with you guys, I’m looking at something from 2015 where there is a contractor charge of $50 a day. I don’t know what to do. Long story short, since I’ve been in the transportation office, I’ve not charged anybody. Until I can see something that is clear, I don’t know how to handle that.”
“We cannot get our kids to school without our contracted drivers,” Coffey said. “There is a contractor that gave me a copy of the policy (that was in effect) in 2012-13, then I got a ‘to be considered’ policy that was sometime in 2015. I’ll try to locate that.”
Chairman Harold Frazier said that the policy would be discussed in a workshop session before next month’s meeting at 6:30 p.m., November 17.
“That would be the fairest way to do it,” Frazier said.
The county currently has eight spare buses, including one that is kept at Washburn School. The board also approved the system to take part in the Sourcewell cooperative for three years. The county commission previously approved this for all departments.
“The County Commission approved using Sourcewell for all departments,” Atkins said. “I wanted to bring this before the board because (you) are the legal entity for our school system, not the county commission.”