The Superior School Board approved the purchase of 10 new buses during the Monday, March 9 regular board meeting.
Eight will be propane vehicles; the other two will be diesel. The total cost for the vehicles is $912,120. One bus will be purchased with money budgeted for this fiscal year. The other nine buses will be financed for three years, with the district paying $282,000 per year.
The move comes two months after Transportation Director David See gave a presentation to the board detailing the age of Superior’s current fleet. Of the district’s 32 usable buses, 10 are between 10 and 14 years old and four that are used on a daily basis are 15 years old, he told them during the Jan. 9 regular board meeting. The oldest have between 230,000 and 300,000 miles on them.
The district spent about $400,000 in maintenance costs for the 2018-19 school year, See said. The maintenance costs for the 10 oldest buses was roughly $150,000.
“Any dollar we put into those old buses is just lost. They have no resale value, we’re just keeping them on the road,” See said.
When the district retired one of its oldest buses last year, he said, they received $250 scrap value for it.
“And it cost $200 to get it there,” See said.
The buses are safe, See said, but they aren’t reliable and breakdowns result in delays, driver stress and transferring students to a cold bus.
It was an eye-opening presentation, Board members said.
“I’m so appreciative of this information,” Clerk Laura Gapske said. “We didn’t know this.”
Board Vice-President Christina Kintop said the aging bus fleet was the result of the board kicking the can down the road as it dealt with budget cuts.
At the March 9 meeting, See told board members that the long-range plan would be to continue to buy batches of buses every three years to ensure the oldest vehicles in the fleet were only 12 years old.
“It’s just nice to know we have a plan moving forward,” Gapske said.
She said Board members would like department heads to give similar presentations in the future so they can understand what’s needed and strategically plan for those needs long-term.
The board also approved the purchase of two 10-passenger vans for $73,874. District Administrator Amy Starzecki said the vans will be used for students who need transportation during the day instead of buses, allowing more flexibility and saving money. The funds would come out of this year’s budget.