GRANVILLE — Citing safety concerns expressed by parents and board members pertaining to bus drivers in recent months, the Putnam County school board approved a $2 million transportation contract Monday with the highest of two bidders.
Board president Vicky Nauman reported that the board finance committee recently met to weigh the higher costs of one bidder against safety concerns about drivers for the low bidder. On Monday’s meeting in the primary school building in Granville, Nauman asked for a motion to approve a three-year contract with Johannes Bus Service Inc.
Johannes bid $635,829 for service in the first year, $688,436 in the second and $691,832 in the third. Illinois Central School Bus’s contract is expiring. It bid $583,904 for the first year; $598,501 the second and $613,463 — $230,000 less than Johannes.
The board vote was definitive: 6-0.
“We’ve received reports every month regarding our transportation issues. Granted, some of the issues were minor. Our administration seemed to have spent an inordinate amount of time on issues,” Naumann said, adding that the district shouldn’t have its superintendent spending one fourth of his time transportation issues and safety concerns.
The board resolution stated that while it’s price was higher, Johannes also submitted a responsible bid.
Superintendent Jay McCracken emphasized, as he has in recent months, that the local manager for Illinois Central always was responsive to calls and concerns from the district office and worked hard to answer questions McCracken had. He also said the new chief executive for the business has been responsive as well.
McCracken said he had drawn up resolutions before the meeting to be ready in case the board made a motion to retain Illinois Central School Bus. He indicated after the meeting he would have understood their decision either way it went.
As it is, he said of the board’s view, “It’s all about student safety. How can you put a price on the safety of the children?”
* Naumann read a report from Debbie Ward about the band’s trip and performances at the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland and the Cleveland art museum. A security guard reportedly told the teacher he thought they were a college group because they were so well-behaved.
* The board renewed its liability insurance with Country Insurance, with premiums going up from $86,666 this year to $93,993 this year. The company cited nationwide national disasters as the main reason for the increase in premiums.