2012-2013 Proposed Bus Purchase – Questions & Answers
As the Board of Education and district administrators scrutinize the budget for cost savings, some common questions they are receiving from community members pertain to the proposed annual bus purchase.
The district is looking to purchase three 65-passenger buses, two long wheelchair buses, and three short wheelchair buses, for a total of $961,000. Community members will be asked to vote on the purchase in a separate proposition for the 2012-2013 budget vote on May 15.
Below are some of the most frequently asked questions about the district’s buses and the bus purchase proposition.
Q: Why does the district purchase buses every year?
A: Each year, the district must replace buses that have deteriorated to the point that they are no longer safe and will not pass state inspection. The district must have enough buses in its fleet to cover every route every day, even if several buses are in the garage for maintenance work. On a typical school day, there are usually about six to nine buses out of service for maintenance and inspections.
The district covers an area of roughly 80.2 square miles, transporting approximately 4,200 to 4,700 students every school day. District buses travel a total of approximately 1.2 million miles a year.
Q: Can the district skip the bus purchase for 2012-2013 and apply the $961,000 to the general fund budget to help close the gap?
A: According to state law, the district is not allowed to do this. The state aid the district would receive for this purchase is designated for a capital purchase, which is what the bus purchase is, not an operational expense in the general fund budget.
For a $961,000 bus purchase, the state will reimburse the district $807,240, or 84% of the total cost. If the district decided to forego the bus purchase for 2012-2013, we would not receive any of the $807,240 in aid.
Foregoing the purchase of buses for a year would disrupt the district’s long-term bus purchase plan. The plan calls for replacing a certain number of buses each year to have an adequate number in the fleet to handle all of the district’s routes each day. If the district does not purchase any buses for 2012-2013, in a subsequent year the number of buses that will need to be replaced will be higher, resulting in a higher total cost to taxpayers.
Q: What will be the actual cost of the 2012-2013 bus purchase to taxpayers?
A: The actual cost of the bus purchase after deducting state aid is $153,760. This cost will be spread out over five years, for a cost of $30,752 per year.
Q: How does the district determine when to replace a bus?
A: Mileage is not the only consideration when determining which buses to remove from service and to replace. The primary consideration is the age of the bus. The average life span of a school bus in Central New York is roughly 10 to 12 years mostly due to weather conditions. The salt mixture used on local roads is corrosive to a bus’ structure. After about 10 to 12 years, buses require costly and necessary repairs to pass New York State inspection. It is not cost effective for the district to repair these vehicles.
Q: Why do I sometimes see buses with only a few students on them?
A: Usually, when you see a bus with only a few students on it, you are probably seeing a bus at the beginning or the end of its route, depending on the time of day. We also transport several special needs students to other schools in the Central New York area, using smaller buses or suburbans with a smaller numbers of students on board them.