9000+ Las Cruces Students Could Be Stranded at Bus Stop

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POSTED: Thursday, March 25, 2010 - 4:55pm

UPDATED: Thursday, March 25, 2010 - 6:12pm

LAS CRUCES--- More than 9,000 Las Cruces Public Schools students may be without a ride to school as early as April 6th, now that the school district and its bus company are in a legal battle over contract breaches.

This includes 136 buses, 44 of which serve special needs students, said Superintendent Stan Rounds.

First Student, Inc., and Las Cruces Public Schools, have a $6,680,940 contract. This year, the state cut 4 percent in funding for school district transportation budgets, cutting $270,000 off the company's contract.

Then, a major drop in student ridership, from 12,000 in 2008-2009, to just more than 9,000 this school year, forced the company to lose more than $1.2 million.

The company's Sr. Vice President, Cal Hull, put Superintendent Rounds on "notice that First Student is cancelling the Agreement effective March 31, 2010." That was in a letter dated March 15.

The letter forced the District to take legal action, said Rounds. The LCPS put a temporary restraining order on First Student, Inc., after they say the company violated a 60-day prior notice of cancellation clause.

The both will meet in court April 6th, which could possibly be the last day of service.

Las Cruces grandmother and First Student, Inc. bus driver Dorothy Morales says the whole situation is putting her and her grandson in a tough spot.

"I'm worried for my grandson and everybody else concerned," she said. "I mean us as bus drivers, I mean the mechanics, the staff, of course the students as well. Everybody. This is going to affect everybody," she said.

About 200 First Student, Inc. employees were given letters, telling them they would be laid off when they stopped services for LCPS.

"Here is something I want you to hear. The Las Cruces Public Schools will not stand by and let our kids be stranded at the bus stop," said Rounds.

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