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School bus cost saving not settled

December 13, 2000

School bus cost saving not settled



By TARA REILLY / Staff Writer


The vice president of the Washington County Board of Education wants to hear what the Washington County School Bus Contractors Association has to say about claims that the school system can save money by buying their own buses instead of paying contractors for the service.

"I need to have a chance to hear some of what the school bus contractors have to say," said Vice President Bernadette Wagner.

Currently, the School Board owns 114 buses and uses 63 contracted buses. It would cost about $4 million to buy all 63 buses.

At a Tuesday meeting with the Washington County Commissioners, the School Board said it can purchase a bus for about $67,000 over a 12-year period. The board claims it pays contractors about $108,000 over 12 years in per vehicle allotments.

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Contractors receive per vehicle allotments over a 12-year period to pay for their buses. They then enter into an agreement with the school system to transport students. By law, buses can only be used to carry students for 12 years.

The contractors think the board's figures are inaccurate and believe their service costs the school system less than buying all of its own buses.

"No, we don't agree with them," said Terry Hovermale, president of the Washington County School Bus Contractors. "We were really surprised at yesterday's meeting."

He said contractors pay many costs that weren't included in the report, which would bring the price of contracted services about equal to or less than what the board claims. Those costs include the price of housing buses, driver training fees, vacation time and benefits.

"We just don't feel that everything's been taken into consideration," Hovermale said.

Bill McKinley, the School Board's executive director of support services, said the school system's figures are on target.

"We believe our numbers are factual numbers and are solid numbers," McKinley said. "If they have their own numbers, I haven't seen them."

The School Board says the school system wouldn't have to pay some of the extra expenses that contractors pay because it already owns its own bus lot, repair shop and trains its drivers on site. For routes in the rural areas, buses could be housed at schools or other lots for no charge.

Contractors plan to draft a report and present it to board or the County Commissioners.

According to McKinley, the Washington County School Board is sticking to its numbers and the report indicates the school system could see a significant savings by buying all of its buses.

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