School Considers Renewing Contract With Durham

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Durham School Services bus yard in Ames. (WHO-HD)

Durham School Services bus yard in Ames. (WHO-HD)

AMES, Iowa — The Ames School Board could choose to renew its transportation contract with Durham School Services, despite the issues the district had with the company last fall including children getting passed by the bus, dropped off in intersections, and drivers asking students where their stops were located.

A committee made up of school board members, administrators, and parents unanimously agreed to recommend renewing the contract for another three years.

Officials say Durham has done a lot to fix what happened last fall. The company hired new management, increased training, and provided guarantees in their contract providing refunds if it does not meet the school’s standards.

Only one other company bid on the contract. DS Bus Lines of Bonner Springs Kansas would cost the district around $400,000 more than Durham. School board president Luke Deardorff says last fall was a learning experience for the district about the importance of good communication. “We actually hired and created new staff as a bus liaison, that way when a parent calls they can talk to district staff instead of our contractor about concerns. So it really brings a level of connection that we didn’t previously have,” said Deardorff.

The board will review the committee’s recommendation and possible vote on the contract. That meeting starts Monday night at 6:30 in the high school multipurpose room.

3 comments

  • John Smith

    I’m still wondering how employing such a service could possibly be much of a savings to the district. Apparently, this service isn’t any more efficient at picking up the kids, so it can’t be that. So, how is it that this service is so much less expensive for the district than just buying buses and hiring drivers, like the good ol’ days? Remember, the service also has to turn a profit. Does the service buy less expensive buses? Does it pay its employees so much less?

    How is it that a school district could manage a simple bus service so poorly as to make it profitable to a third-party business?

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