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School Board considers 4 bus options

January 10, 2001

School Board considers 4 bus options



By TARA REILLY / Staff Writer


The Washington County Board of Education has four options if it decides to buy four new school buses and each option would be less expensive than using the services of school bus contractors, according to School Board administrators.

The administrators presented the options to the County Commissioners at Tuesday's joint meeting with the School Board. It claims the school system could save $232,000 over 12 years if it bought the four buses.

William McKinley, the board's executive director of support services, said the School Board could make outright purchases, finance, lease or put the buses out for competitive bid.

Four of the board's 63 contracted buses are in the last year of their 12-year contracts. By law, buses can be used to carry students for only 12 years. The school system owns 114 buses.

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The Washington County School Bus Contractors Association said it did not know board administrators were going to present the information at the joint meeting and declined further comment until studying the options.

School officials say the School Board would save the most money if it bought the buses outright, but it would need $220,000 from the County Commissioners this year. The $220,000 represents the full cost of the four buses at $55,000 each.

The Board of Education pays each contractor about $108,000 in per-vehicle allotments over 12 years, which would mean a savings of about $53,000 per bus if the buses were purchased outright.

In addition to the per-vehicle allotment, the school system pays contractors about $13.99 an hour in wages and 77 cents per mile in fuel and maintenance. Contractors also receive $675 a year in supplemental pay.

The school system would save about $169,200 if it financed the buses at 12 percent interest for five years, McKinley said.

It would save $170,400 over the 12-year-life period if it leased the four buses, McKinley said. The board would not receive the title to the buses until the end of their lease.

The County Commissioners would need to approve both the financing and leasing option.

The final option that McKinley presented would be to offer contractors the opportunity to competitively bid on the expiring contract routes. The board would retain the right to reject any and all bids, he said.

Commissioner Paul Swartz said he'd like to see numbers from the contractors and the School Board, while Commissioner Bert Iseminger said he trusted the board's account.

"Certainly, the staff has done a great job," Iseminger said. "I have a good deal of confidence in the numbers you are presenting. Certainly what it comes down to is per vehicle allotment."

McKinley again refuted recent contractor claims that the School Board left out figures in the cost comparison to make it appear contractors are more expensive than buying buses.

"If they have the data, please let us have it," McKinley said. "To this point, I don't have anything that would make me change the data."

The School Board will discuss the issue at its next business meeting on Jan. 16. Contractors have said they will attend the meeting.

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