Trinity bus contract still not resolved
More than five months after a school board vote to award a bus transportation contract to Cincinnati-based bus company First Student Inc. was tossed out in Washington County Court, Trinity Area School District remains without a long-term contract.
Since the district’s pact with GG&C and Schweinebraten expired June 30, Trinity has continued to employ the bus companies to provide student transportation under the terms of the previous contract.
The school board announced in August, days before school started, that the two companies would transport students, although no formal vote was taken to hire the companies.
In March, GG&C and Schweinebraten, which sued the district in Washington County Court in December after Trinity decided to seek bids in order to potentially save money, offered to continue to provide service to the school district during the contract impasse. The companies transported students throughout the summer and assisted in mapping routes for the 2013-14 school year.
The school board said it is continuing to work with the companies upon the advice of its solicitor, Dennis Makel.
The arrangement is unusual, said Sean Fields, an attorney with the Pennsylvania School Board Association, but it’s not unprecedented.
It is likely the school board will continue to work with the two bus companies in such a manner until new school board members take their seats in December and address the transportation issue.
Board members Sandra Clutter and Scott Day were defeated in the May primary, and the terms of Colleen Interval and Tamara Salvatori expire.
A sticking point is that the bus contract needs five votes for approval.
Currently, just six board members are allowed to weigh in on the transportation contract after directors William H. Clemens, Jenene Hupp and Clutter were prohibited by court order in January to discuss or vote on bus contract issues because of a conflict of interest. In April, Clutter, Day and Interval had voted in favor of First Student, while Salvatori opposed.
“The bottom line is that we’re not negotiating now because there aren’t five people who agree on the direction of the contract,” said Superintendent Paul Kasunich. “When there is a majority on the board that can agree on a direction, then we’ll talk.”
Bill Speakman, an attorney representing Schweinebraten, said the company has had little contact with the school district regarding contract negotiations.
“We are prepared to negotiate with the school district at any time regarding a new contract,” Speakman said.
First Student representatives could not be reached for comment.