Lincoln School Department seeking new bus contract

Lincoln School Department seeking new bus contract

LINCOLN – With Lincoln’s school busing contract expiring, officials are seeking bids for a new transportation company.

The district has opted to hire a consultant to aid with the process, given the multitude of challenges this year pertaining to safely and effectively transporting students to and from school during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Last week, the School Committee voted to appoint a consultant to assist as the district prepares to submit a request for proposals for a new, five-year school transportation contract. The consultant will cost the district $4,200.

Noting the significant changes to transportation occurring recently, School Committee member Mary Anne Roll questioned how many potential vendors the district could realistically be looking at. “I’m not sure what we could get from (hiring) a consultant, with such a small pool … unless I’m unaware of other vendors,” she said.

Finance Director John McNamee said the consultant would be soliciting bids both locally and out of state.

“He has the ability to draw in more bidders than I think we would,” McNamee said.

Lincoln is partnering with Portsmouth to seek bids, though each town will submit separate proposals.

McNamee said if Lincoln is to stay with its current busing company, First Student, that the company “would have to sharpen their pencil.” First Student was put on the market last year.

Asked by School Committee member Kristine Donabedian about the scope of responsibilities for the consultant, McNamee said they would be helping to:

• Prepare the RFP and solicit bids from various vendors;

• Be involved with responding to questions vendors may have relative to the bid specifications;

• Gather information about bus routes and Lincoln’s specific busing requirements;

• Prepare meetings with bidders;

• And negotiate and draft the final agreement.

School Committee Chairman Joseph Goho was the only member of the committee to vote against hiring a consultant.

“My concern is that the district has done a great job paring down its budget. On its face, $4,000 doesn’t seem like a lot of money, and we might make it up with a good bid, but we also could have those conversations with our attorney,” he said. “I just don’t see the return for this item that’s un-budgeted.”