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MCPS settles agreement to pay Beach Transportation costs, covering driver pay

MCPS buses.jpg
Posted at 10:21 PM, May 14, 2020

MISSOULA — Missoula County Public Schools approved an agreement paying Beach Transportation for some, although not all, of what the company would have made this spring before the pandemic closed schools.

Administrators say it will ensure drivers get paid and be ready to work this fall.

MCPS contracts with Beach Transportation for thousands of trips every year. But when schools were closed that meant Beach was out hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The agreement with the district said Beach would be paid 61 percent of fixed costs. But when the company argued that wouldn't cover driver pay for idle routes, the district opened negotiations on a memorandum of understanding.

That agreement, approved this week, will pay Beach 70 percent for more than 70 different routes, not including activity buses that aren't being used. And it stipulates drivers will be paid.

"From our standpoint, it's important for us to ensure that the staff, the bus drivers, are ready to roll when school resumes," MCPS executive director of business and operations Pat McHugh said. "And so, we're asking the board that they support this M.O.U. for an enhanced payment of cancellation fee during this COVID-19 closure."

The agreement also stipulates Beach will continue to provide buses that are providing food delivery to families on 18 different routes.