Gilroy school district baffled over contract

The Gilroy Unified School District is pulling out of the
competition to provide bus service for Hollister School District
students despite putting in the most competitive bid in
November.
Hollister – The Gilroy Unified School District is pulling out of the competition to provide bus service for Hollister School District students despite putting in the most competitive bid in November.

In an attempt to save jobs, Gilroy Unified placed a bid to transport local students for about $2,000 per day. That easily beat out Tiffany Transportation Service’s bid – Tiffany has been transporting HSD students for the last 50 years – to provide the same service for about $2,800 per day. It’s a difference of about $90,000 over the five-year life of the contract, according to the HSD bid summary provided by district officials in Gilroy.

But after bidding closed in February, the Hollister School District rejected all the bids for the bussing contract because of “inconsistencies” in its bid request. A new round of bidding began in May, but GUSD will not submit a proposal this time around because they believe the HSD isn’t interested in their services, according to Steve Brinkman, assistant superintendent for administrative services at GUSD.

“Quite frankly we withdrew from the process,” he said. “We have not had a warm reception, and you don’t want to go where you’re not wanted.”

In November the district advertised that it was accepting bids for its transportation contract. Long-time HSD transportation provider Tiffany Transportation Services, a subsidiary of Tiffany Motors of Hollister, and the Gilroy Unified School District both entered bids for the five-year contract.

In February the HSD Board of Trustees voted to reject the bids citing “inconsistencies” in the bid packages that the district had compiled, according to Superintendent Judith Barranti.

“The district can reject all bids in order to meet the needs of the district,” Barranti stated in an e-mail. “There were inconsistencies in our bid packets that we wanted to rectify.”

But it is unclear what the inconsistencies were in the bid package that justified rejecting the proposals and how the problems were changed in the most recent request for proposals.

C.R. Rogers, manager of transportation services for HSD, said that the previous bid package had minor spelling errors that needed to be corrected. But when asked to elaborate further on the inconsistencies in the bid package that were mentioned by Barranti, he refused to comment.

Gilroy Unified bid on the contract with hopes of saving union jobs, Brinkman said.

“We approached from a standpoint of virtue,” he said. “We’ve taken some hits to transportation, and we made a pledge to try to protect positions.”

And, the Hollister School District never gave GUSD a reason why its bid was rejected, Brinkman said. He said it’s unfortunate to lose the opportunity because many of GUSD’s bus drivers live in Hollister and many of the district’s busses are kept in the city.

“We thought it would be a perfect fit,” he said.

Tiffany Transportation Services has held HSD’s transportation contract for more than 50 years. The last five-year contract Tiffany entered into with HSD ended in 2003, but the district extended the contract for two more years, according to Owner Bob Tiffany.

After all the confusion, officials at GUSD feel they are getting the cold shoulder from Barranti and her subordinates at HSD and will not pursue the HSD transportation contract any further, Brinkman said.

Tiffany said he is going to bid for the contract again.

“I know HSD has been very happy with us, and we’re happy with them. I hope we’re with them another 50 years.”

But, he said, he hasn’t decided whether he is going to give a lower bid this time around.

“We’d like to keep doing this,” he said. “We’re doing everything in our power to put out a competitive bid.”

By Luke Roney

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