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Letter: Difficult decision for NL-S

The New London-Spicer School District is facing a decision over a transportation services contract for the next two school years.

Russell's Bus Company of New London is owned by five partners -- only one partner lives in the NL-S School District. The district is very appreciative of Russell's quality service over the years. The school district is required to post notice for quotations or bids for services. In addition, the district wants to get the most value for its money while providing a safe way to and from school. The district hired an independent consultant to determine a fair market price. Less than half of the students ride the bus to school. The district received quotations from four Minnesota bus companies. We are currently analyzing the proposals.

Russell's did not submit the lowest price quotation. Based on their history of quality service to the district, however, Russell's is being afforded an opportunity to negotiate a fair price in view of the other proposals. Other items under discussion include the age of their bus fleet and their willingness to share in the risk of high fuel costs. These discussions are facilitated by the existence of other bids -- contrary to the idea that the district is trying to do away with Russell's.

If a new vendor is chosen, a new bus terminal may need to be constructed. In any case the terminal will be located close to the schools. The district is not currently proposing to pay the costs itself of building a new terminal. And, under any circumstances the district will require a vendor to make a full commitment to hiring interested employees who currently provide transportation services in New London-Spicer.

The primary mission of the school district is to provide the best education for its students. In doing so, we will continue to provide a safe means of getting to and from school. We have the opportunity to lower our costs while keeping reductions away from the classroom. It is a difficult decision, and we hope the community realizes we are trying to serve the best interests of our students and community.