Regional School Unit 3 received and answered questions from several interested parties regarding the district's Request for Proposals from third-party entities to provide transportation services, according to the superintendent.

Heather Perry, RSU 3 superintendent, said the district received a number of questions regarding the transportation RFP on Friday, Dec. 6, and responded to those questions Monday, Dec. 9. Any parties interested in possibly providing transportation services for the district must submit a proposal by Monday, Dec. 23.

Perry said the transportation companies that responded to the district's RFP with questions included three businesses located in the state, and two businesses that are located out-of-state. Just because the companies asked questions about the RFP, Perry said it does not mean that all of the companies will submit a proposal by the Dec. 23 deadline.

The district began discussing seeking bids from third-party entities to possible handle transportation services in RSU 3 after school board members and administrators were asked if it would save money during a public hearing regarding the 2013-2014 school budget.

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.

Included in the transportation RFP is language that asks the companies to hire the bus drivers who are employed by the district for at least the first year of the contract. The RFP also asks that the company lease the district's bus fleet and the maintenance garage.

Perry has previously said that contracting bus service with a third-party company could save the district money in terms of the costs associated with maintaining the bus fleet, as well as administrative costs for managing the transportation services.

However, Perry also stated the district would lose control over some aspects of its transportation services if it contracts with a third party, such as which fuel vendor is selected.

Any possible cost savings will not be known until companies submit bids. Once the district receives proposals from the transportation companies on Dec. 23, Perry said the district will compile all of the bids to present to the school board during their Jan. 13 meeting.