Future of busing at Grand Forks school district unclear
The school board recently rejected a bid from Dietrich after it came in 80% higher from this year's contract.
GRAND FORKS — The future of busing for Grand Forks schools is up in air.
There are growing concerns about how kids will get to school next year after the school board rejected the bid from the district's longtime provider Dietrich for busing.
A couple board members noted it may have been the first time the district had ever rejected a transportation bid.
Dietrich provided the only bid, and had been serving the district for decades.
"It was a rejection of that bid, but not a rejection of that vendor," said district business manager Brandon Baumbach.
Normally accustomed to single-digit increases, Dietrich this time proposed an increase of nearly 80%.
"We want to be able to guarantee we will have bus drivers, we'll have routes for the district, I don't think (it) was an effort to inflate the numbers, they were sharpening their pencils and saying this is what it is going to take to operate," Baumbach said explaining the bid.
When reached for comment, Dietrich said "the district is the one that will be giving the direction of how this moves forward."
The contract expires June 30, and has been put out to bid again.
Two other companies expressed interest during the last bid cycle, but did not submit formal bids citing the costs of moving into the area.
"It's our job to educate kids, we gotta get them there," Baumbach said.
About 900 of the districts 7,500 students rely on a school bus to get to class each day.
Right now three options are the main focus.
Accepting the Dietrich bid, hoping one of those two other companies submit a bid, and the district buying or leasing its own fleet.
Two options not on the table include bringing back daily bus tickets, which was stopped during COVID-19, and passing along any cost increase to taxpayers.
"I want to provide assurance to all those parents and families out there, every school day starts with busing," Baumbach siad.
The new bids are due in early April and the school board is expected to review them later in the month.