Unified School District 475 board members have approved an agreement with the Flint Hills Area Transportation Agency (ATA Bus) to provide transportation services to students.

Many students use ATA Bus for various school-related transportation services, and board members agreed to a contract for a pilot program with the company during this week’s meeting.

Board Vice President Dr. Anwar Khoury asked about ATA Bus drivers.

“Are they held to the same rigor and licensing like we do drivers with our busing, in terms of finger printing and background checking?” Khoury asked. “Does the district have any influence as to seeing if the drivers have a background check?”

USD 475 Chief Operating Officer David Wild said background checks are done on ATA Bus drivers.

“They go through the same rigor as we might with the school district,” Wild said.

Board member Jim Schmidt asked how students found to be eligible for the service — services will be for students who reside within a 2.5-mile radius of USD 475 schools where bus services are not currently available — will be identified.

“Will there be a running roster?” Schmidt asked. “Will they have some means of showing (they) live within the 2.5-mile radius?”

Wild said students will be vetted at the time of application. Board members approved a contract with ATA Bus that will run from May 1 to April 30, 2020, and will cost $49,000.

In other business, board members voted against a proposal to replace the district’s vehicle fleet with leased vehicles from Enterprise Fleet Management. The district currently owns 52 vehicles, and 14 of them are more than 10 years old. Two of them are scheduled to be replaced this year, and staff previously suggested leasing vehicles as a possible alternative plan. Board members voted against the proposal by a 4-3 vote.

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