By MATT SMITH
The Salt Lake City School Board voted this week to terminate the Tran Spec Busing, Inc. contract that was supposed to save the district $600,000.
Last year the board was deciding whether or not to hire Tran Spec to take over the transportation responsibilities for the entire district.
Now after a year of late buses, expensive field trips, and many complaints from the community, the board voted to not renew the contract.
“We had to terminate the Tran Spec contract because of delinquent service and bad public relations between the community and the company,” saidChris Peterson, transportation associate for the Utah State Board of Education.
In addition to its poor service, Tran Spec recently asked for an extra $160,000 to finish the school year. Tran Spec spokesman Don Winters said they needed the money just to break even.
Gary Harmer, district business manager, was central in hiring Tran Spec last year. Harmer is now responsible for reclaiming the service and implementing it again in the district.
Harmer had recommended that board members extend the company’s contract because taking back the bus service would be too complicated and time consuming.
Harmer and his staff will be inspecting the buses and equipment that were sold to Tran Spec to assess a buy back price for the entire fleet.
He also said he has to interview and hire about 70 employees, most of which are currently on Tran Spec’s payroll.
Harmer said he will try to make the transition as smooth as possible but it will take some time.
District officials are hoping that Tran Spec will fulfill their contract which expires on July 31. Harmer says Tran Spec has been cooperative.
After the decision to terminate the contract, Tran Spec President Randy Bennett said he would try to have the district with transportation before July 31.
Bennett, who attended BYU, had ties to Utah and thought the contract would work. He figured that since the Deaf and Blind transportation program was working, he could take on the whole district and save money.
Now the district must decide what to do with $300,000 they allocated for district Internet connections, special education programs and enhanced elementary school music programs. The district might have to apply the money towards the transportation program.
Tran Spec has a dozen other busing contracts in the Midwest and will continue to transport students for the Utah School for the Deaf and Blind, even though the Salt Lake City contract is costing Tran Spec over $60,000 a month.