Regional School Unit 3 School Board members agreed to seek proposals from third-party transportation companies to provide bus service for the district Tuesday, Nov. 12.

The district began considering making a change to the district's transportation service after a resident asked board members during a public hearing regarding the 2013-2014 school budget if RSU 3 could save money by contracting with a third-party to provide bus service.

Superintendent Heather Perry previously told The Republican Journal the district could potentially save money as a result of not having to pay costs associated with the maintenance of the buses, as well as administrative costs for managing the district's transportation services.

Perry noted that contracting with a third-party transportation service would mean the district would lose control over some aspects of the operations, such as being able to choose the fuel vendor.

Any potential cost savings will not be known until companies submit bids to the district.

The district has taken steps over the past year to implement cost-saving measures in regards to transportation, which included switching to a single-run bus route. That move saved the district about $200,000.

As part of the Request for Proposals Perry is preparing to send out is language that asks the companies to hire the drivers that are employed by the district to drive the buses for at least the first year of the contract. Perry said the RFP does not include language that asks the companies to also hire the district's existing maintenance staff; however, she said because RSU 3's maintenance staff is knowledgeable about the district's buses, she said she imagined a company would want to retain them.

The RFP also asks that the companies lease the district's bus fleet, as well as the bus garage, Perry said.

She said the board may be able to begin discussing the bids in December, but said the discussion would more likely take place in January.