SOUTH ALLEGHENY (KDKA) — Parents in the South Allegheny School District will have to wait until late March or early April for the district to secure a new bus transportation company.
The dispute between the district and its former bus company leaves mothers like Brytnee Wesolowski feeling frustrated.
“Picking up a child and dropping them off is not a five-minute ordeal,” Wesolowski said.
KDKA’s Meghan Schiller learned the bus company recently ditched the school district over an allegedly unpaid bill. Now some parents will have to pick up the slack.
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“You are waiting in line on Washington Boulevard for 30 minutes to drop them off and pick them up,” said Wesolowski.
She loves her daughter dearly but says she’s happy to see her return to fifth grade four days a week.
“We finally get to send them back to school and we have this hurdle to jump over,” Wesolowski said.
“We provided bus service for six months without getting paid under the terms of the contract, to our detriment of about $600,000 for this school year,” said attorney Ray Middleman.
After 25 years of busing South Allegheny students, Middleman’s client — Sun Coach Lines — said the district stopped paying the full contracted amount.
“We want the parents to know it wasn’t us,” said Middleman. “We tried to do this. We did the best that we could against very difficult circumstances and confusion caused by the district.”
The attorneys representing the district disagree.
They wouldn’t do an interview but told KDKA’s Meghan Schiller over the phone that “Paragraph 4” in the contract supports their claims. It says the district will pay the bus company unless one or both of the following events occurs:
- The number of students provided school bus transportation services by the school district increases or decreases at any time during the term of this Agreement by 5% from the number of students provided school bus transportation services as of the first student day of the 2016-2017 School Year, which was August 24, 2016;
- The school district, for whatever reason, discontinues school bus transportation services for its students beyond the 2016-2017 School Year, except for those school transportation services mandated by federal and state law.
Middleman argues that did not happen and the district is mistaken.
“It’s clear, it’s concise. It does not relieve them of having to pay the bulk rate,” said Middleman.
He claims the bus company continued to remain “at the ready” and running some routes. The attorneys for the district said the district is “optimistically estimating” a late March or early April timeframe for when the district can secure a new bus company.