The Kenai Superior Court lifted a stay filed by First Student, Alaska’s largest pupil transportation provider, to bar the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District from awarding the next pupil transportation contract.
First Student alleged that the school district committed an abuse of discretion by announcing intent to award Missouri-based Apple Bus the contract, and would cause First Student irreparable harm by doing so. Kenai Superior Court Judge Anna Moran denied the stay Monday, stating in her decision First Student did not prove the company would suffer irreparable harm if the school district denied its proposal.
The Board of Education will take action on the contract award, set to begin at the start of the 2017-2018 school year, during a special meeting scheduled for 7 p.m., Wednesday, July 27. Board President Joe Arness, Superintendent Sean Dusek and Assistant Superintendent Dave Jones chose to bump the decision originally scheduled for the next regular board meeting.
“The board has the prerogative to schedule a special board meeting — they determined it was in the best interest of the district to schedule this special meeting with the topic of transportation, and not wait until August,” said Pegge Erkeneff, school district liaison.
School district administrators recommend board members approve a 10-year agreement with Apple Bus, and not renew with the current contract holder First Student. Apple Bus received the highest score in a review process of the returned Request For Proposals, or RFPs, and had lower daily rates than First Student. Apple Bus proposed $558.23 per regular education bus per day, and $740.49 per special education bus per day, which is 1 percent more than the school district’s current contract. First Student’s proposed rates were $564.31 per regular education bus per day, and $748.56 per special education bus per day, and would cost the school district nearly $1 million more over life of the contract than signing on with Apple Bus.
The contract decision was originally scheduled to take place June 6, during a regular meeting, but the board decided to postpone until the July 11 meeting because an appeals process had not yet been resolved.
“First Student chose to take the appeal process to the (superior) court level and had asked the court for a stay restricting KPBSD from awarding the student transportation contract to Apple Bus Company,” Erkeneff said in an email. “Prior to the board meeting on July 11, 2016, the court issued a temporary stay so the parties could brief the court on certain issues. Based on that temporary stay, the board postponed action awarding a contract until the court acted to lift the stay on July 18, 2016.”
It has not been determined whether the board will also take action on moving the southern Kenai Peninsula from a one to two-tier busing system.
Reach Kelly Sullivan at firstname.lastname@example.org.