Representatives from three bus vendors appeared at the Wilson County School Board meeting tonight to share their thoughts on the bidding process.
The Board was concerned when only one of the three vendors chose to participate.
Transportation Director Jerry Partlow asked each representative to share their thoughts in order to determine whether "bid specs are fair or biased in some manner."
The lone bidder Mid-South Bus Sales, represented by Steve Benefield felt it was "as fair as we deal with on a daily basis" - however, others felt differently - believing the specs swayed toward a particular vendor.
Chuck Harvill, general manager/Tennessee operations for Central States Bus Sales said its a situation they see frequently. "We have school districts who ask us to help write their specs - that's okay," he explained. "But when we see they've done that with another bidder we step away."
"We've not protested or taken legal action of any kind," he continued. "We don't plan to do that. We just want a chance to earn your business."
Out of the estimated 70 opportunities he's had to bid this year, Harvill said he's only passed on three - one of them being in Wilson County.
Ashley Hailston, with Cumberland IC Bus Sales, felt the same.
"I couldn't win this so I chose not to participate," she said, noting that she highlighted 75 exceptions within the first five pages. "I don't want to say I wasn't treated fairly. I did have the opportunity, and it was my choice to no-bid."
Hailston did admit that she was at a disadvantage due to specifications such as a 3-year, 50,000-mile warranty - when they offer 12 months.
Board Member Wayne McNeese vowed he would not vote on the issue at tonight's meeting as long as there was only one vendor.
For more information from Monday night's school board meeting, pick up a Wednesday print edition of The Wilson Post.
Staff Writer Sabrina Garrett may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.