Jefferson County to pay more to bus children with disabilities

Jefferson County to pay more to bus children with disabilities

WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - Jefferson County will have to pay more to bus young children with disabilities.

Freeman Bus Corporation has been busing children to Benchmark Services and ARC Jefferson-St. Lawrence since July, but it has had to back out.

President and owner of Freeman Bus Corporation, Leif Petterson says the company bid on the contract expecting to transport around 85 children for the school year, but only 30 have been using the service.

Petterson says with transportation enrollment down, the company was losing money.

"It made the revenue from the program insufficient to support it and was generating losses for us that were not long term sustainable so we went to the county and asked them to help us address that issue, preferably by adjusting our revenue," he said.

"There are some legal processes we have to go through because we are a government entity and in order to even begin to think about negotiating and changing price we had to reach out to the other vendors. Well in this particular case there were only 2 and the other vendor who submitted obviously a higher proposal was willing to consider stepping in," said Jefferson County Administrator Bob Hagemann.

That bidder is First Student. It will start transporting children on December 1.

Freeman Bus Corporation was getting paid about $64 per student, per day. First Student will get paid about $98 per student per day

Petterson says almost all of the current program drivers and attendants will go to work for First Student, so there should be little disruption for the children.

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