released a new statement on its website Thursday detailing how it arrived at the decision to award Westway Coach a contract to handle busing duties for districts 58 and 99 in Downers Grove. The statement is below, verbatim, and can also be read here. For recent statements from District 58, click here. For , here. For Westway Coach, here.
The statement reads:
Today continued to see improvements with District 58 transportation services; however, there is still work to be done. District 58 officials and Westway Coach will be focusing on the following issues, which we believe will be resolved:
- Keeping drivers consistent from day to day
- Immediate communication with drivers
- Bus route consistency: Pick-up/drop-off times have been inconsistent, pick-ups/drop-offs have sometimes been on the wrong side of road, and the routes simply haven’t been driven in the same manner each day.
It has come to our attention that these issues have called into question our reasons for making the switch to Westway Coach to provide our transportation, and we want to provide details about that process.
For more than two decades, District 58 contracted with First Student (formerly Laidlaw) to provide student transportation. In fact, prior to this contract, the last time this service was bid was 2002--almost 10 years ago.
However, in 2010, the District received a timely request from a vendor (not Westway Coach) to let our contract by bid, which we were bound by school code to honor (see verbatim school code reference below).
Upon receipt of the vendor request, Districts 58, 99 and 68 prepared a bid that requested pricing for each individual district, as well as combined services for the three districts. The bids were individual bids let out by each individual district. In other words, there were three bids, not one joint bid.
The public bid opening was conducted in January, and bids were received from Westway Coach, First Student, and Illinois Central Bus Company. After reviewing the pricing, it was apparent that Westway Coach was the lowest bidder. Once the low bidder was determined, the districts did their due diligence by vetting Westway Coach. Cook-Illinois, the parent company of Westway Coach, operates more than 2,000 school buses daily and serves more than 200 school districts. The references were all very positive, and the financial reports of the corporation demonstrated a healthy, capable company with more than 50 years of experience. Based on this information, the recommendation was presented to the Board of Education to award the transportation contract to Westway Coach. The Board voted to award this contract in February 2011.
The bid results for District 58 are summarized below. These are only District 58’s costs. The contract is not combined. There are three individual contracts for the three individual school districts.
2011-12 SCHOOL YEAR
Westway Coach $1,219,953.50
First Student $1,897,958.20
Illinois Central $2,906,049.07
2012-13 SCHOOL YEAR
Westway Coach $1,250,452.34
First Student $1,945,407.16
Illinois Central $2,993,230.54
2013-14 SCHOOL YEAR
Westway Coach $1,281,713.65
First Student $1,994,042.33
Illinois Central $3,083,027.46
TOTAL 3-YEAR CONTRACT
Westway Coach $3,752,119.49
First Student $5,837,407.69
Illinois Central $8,982,307.07
It is important to note that although Westway Coach was the low bidder and the contract represented a significant savings for our district, the decision was not based on price alone. When entering into a contract that involves the safe transportation of approximately 2,000 students, cost is not the foremost concern. The ability of the vendor to carry out the contract is our primary consideration in making the decision, and our vetting effort turned up nothing that would lead us to believe Westway Coach could not service District 58.
Again, District 58 regrets the inconveniences our parents and students have faced this past week. We share these frustrations, and we are committed to working with Westway Coach to resolve the remaining issues as soon as possible.
**REFERENCE: Illinois School Code, (105 ILCS 5/29-6.1) (from Ch. 122, par. 29-6.1):
Contracts for transportation. Subject to Section 6-106.11 of the Illinois Vehicle Code, school boards may enter into contracts for up to 3 years for transportation of pupils to and from school. Such contracts may be extended for up to 2 additional years by mutual agreement of the parties, and thereafter may be extended on a year-to-year basis by mutual agreement of the parties, however no such contract may be extended on a year-to-year basis if a school board receives a timely request from another interested contractor that a contract be let by bid.
(Source: P.A. 84-768.)