Howard County school system, bus contractors agree on modified driver pay during virtual learning

Despite county schools being virtual through at least January because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the Howard County Board of Education recently approved an amendment to the school system’s contract with bus companies to continue to pay bus drivers — at a reduced rate — during the first semester.

The amendment means at least $11 million will be paid to school bus companies that are not driving kids to school through January, school system officials said during a virtual school board meeting Sept. 10. The vote passed 5-1, with member Christian Delmont-Small as the lone member to vote against the amendment. Member Jen Mallo was marked not present for the vote, and student member Zach Koung couldn’t vote because student members cannot vote on issues pertaining to budget, personnel or other restricted matters.

The goal is to keep the bus companies viable while also not spending too much for bus

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Former education head, contractors accused of fudging bids

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Locked doors and a notice regarding COVID-19, greeted reporters at the Mississippi Department of Education offices in Jackson, Miss., Thursday, March 19, 2020.

AP

A former top official at the Mississippi Department of Education and three contractors who worked with the agency are being accused by the federal government of stealing thousands of dollars from the state of Mississippi by manipulating the bidding process for contracts and inflating costs.

The government alleges that, while acting as executive director of the Office of Educator Quality in the Department of Education from 2013 to 2016, Cerissa Renfroe Neal stole $42,000 from the state and granted contractors she conspired with more than $650,000 in state contracts, including federal funds the U.S. Department of Education granted to Mississippi.

Neal, 45, of Madison County, was charged in a federal indictment with conspiracy, wire fraud, money laundering and bribery, U.S. Attorney

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