KCPS ends 10-year partnership with First Student and switches bus companies for next year

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- First Student bus drivers and monitors left Wednesday night's KCPS school board meeting disappointed and uncertain about their future.

Kansas City Public Schools has decided to go to a new bus company next school year.

Dozens of drivers and monitors packed the board meeting. But before that, about 30 First Student supporters also demonstrated outside in the cold. They held signs that read, "Put students and safety first," and "Taxpayers should know the truth," among others.

When everyone went inside, things heated up. First Student employees pleaded with the board to stick with the company.

But after an hour and a half, the KCPS board announced its ending a 10-year partnership with First Student and voted to hire Student Transportation of America as it's new bus company.

"We're gonna have to ask a court to level the playing field here," said Megan McCurdy, First Student's attorney. "The board just got it wrong tonight. They admitted that First Student bid at least $1 million less than STA. They admitted, talked about a standard being the best bid, and that's the wrong standard."

But the district isn't worried about potential court action.

"I'm not concerned about a lawsuit when we know that our process and our policies were adhered to," KCPS Superintendent Mark Bedell said. "We've had that vetted by various attorneys, including attorneys that represent at the state level. And we working with our board and so we're pretty confident that what we did was transparent."

Among other things, board members said they really like STA's use of technology. Parents will be able to track their kids' buses when the new company takes over in the fall. And the company said it plans to use some alternate-fuel buses, too.

A KCPS spokesperson told FOX4 the proposed contract with Student Transportation of America is a three-year, $45 million deal.

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