First Student No Longer First Choice For Columbus City Schools

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UPDATED: Wednesday April 24, 2013 6:21 PM

First Student is no longer the first choice for Columbus City Schools.

Board of Education members voted not to renew its contract with First Student and instead purchase 300 new school buses, bringing its fleet up to more than 800.

Columbus City Schools’ current three-year deal with First Student will end this summer

The back and forth between Columbus City Schools and First Student started back in 2007.

In January 2007, school bus driver Lawrence Battle was pulled over for making an illegal turn.

The Columbus police officer who conducted the traffic stop saw a hypodermic needle next to the driver’s seat.

That incident revealed First Student had not done complete background checks on all of its drivers that year.

That incident was still on the minds of some school board members in June 2010, as it considered making First Student the sole bus company to transport Columbus students.

At that time, superintendent Gene Harris said First Student offered a three-year contract that would save the district $1.9 million.

But after crunching the numbers this time around, the district says First Student's bid was too high.

“It was the best proposal but it was approximately $6 million per year higher than what we were paying for the contract,” said Columbus City Schools Deputy Superintendent John Stanford

Stanford says the costs of new buses, new drivers and overall upkeep is still three million dollars less, per year, than First Student's offer

Plus Stanford says parents are comfortable with the district’s high quality service

“We are focused on making sure we are providing high quality service for our parents and our students because that is what they expect of us,” he said.

First Student, Inc. issued the following statement on Wednesday:

“We are extremely disappointed with that vote as we believe First Student brings a compelling value proposition to all the communities we serve in terms of safety, cost and service. We still believe our bid was competitive, and partnering with a transportation provider is in the best interest of Columbus City Schools and the community. However we respect the board's decision and in our effort to remain a valued partner with Columbus City Schools, we will support them in this transition in any way we can.”

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