School district accuses bus contractor of breach of contract amid driver shortages | Education – Alaska News

School district accuses bus contractor of breach of contract amid driver shortages | Education – Alaska News

FAIRBANKS — The Fairbanks school district has accused its transportation contractor, First Student, of breach of contract.

The conflict is tied to an ongoing shortage of bus drivers that has troubled school districts across the nation and that regularly caused late arrivals last year at schools in the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District.

About 7,000 students in Fairbanks and North Pole ride buses to school.

“We’ve been patient beyond what our community needs to deal with,” said Lisa Pearce, the district’s chief financial officer. 

First Student has its own dispute over contract terms, Pearce said. The company is going into its second year of a five-year contract with the school district. 

Multiple attempts to reach company officials in Ohio this week were unsuccessful.

Pearce said school district officials and First Student corporate officials have been meeting since school let out in May.

“The district is really trying to be proactive and just letting First Student know our community deserves better than this,” Pearce said. 

School district transportation coordinator Ryan Hinton said First Student provided inconsistent transportation services last year.

“We’ve had days where all of the routes were filled but then we had days where we were short 23 drivers,” he said.

Hinton said he fielded multiple complaints per week from parents unhappy with the lack of predictability of school buses and lack of notifications when buses were late. First Student is responsible for late bus notifications,…

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