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Budget news & information

Voters approve $1,125,000 bus & equipment proposition

*Updated May 20, 2015On May 19, 2015, Guilderland Central School District residents approved the $1,125,000 bus and equipment proposition. The passed proposition will allow the district to buy 11 new buses and one maintenance plow truck at a total cost of $1,125,000. The school bus proposition breaks down as follows:

$680,000 for the purchase of six, 66-passenger school buses

$235,000 for the purchase of two, 66-passenger school buses with chains

$109,000 for the purchase of two, 30-passenger buses

$65,000 for one, 24-passenger wheelchair bus

$36,000 for the purchase of one maintenance plow truck

 

This proposition will allow the district to replace school buses that have logged on average 140,000 miles over the past 11 to 12 years. The new plow truck will replace an 18-year-old maintenance truck. The cost of the vehicles will be bonded and paid back over a five-year period (beginning in the 2016-17 school year). Approximately 50 percent of the bus purchase will be returned to the district in the form of future state aid, offsetting the local taxpayer share of the proposition by $544,500.

Weighing the costs...
Listed below are some quick facts about bus resale values for buses at the end of their useful life and the costs of some common repairs experienced when buses reach that point:
Large bus resale value: $2,000 - $3,000
Common Repairs (parts and labor):
Fuel Tank Replacement.....$1,800
Engine Turbocharger Replacement.....$1,900
Radiator Replacement.....$2,200
Transmission Replacement.....$3,800
Rusted Rear Door Replacement.....$2,300
Rusted Step Well Replacement.....$2,500
Rusted Rear Body Panel Replacement.....$3,500
Rusted Side Body Panel Replacement.....$4,000
You will notice that the cost of just one of these repairs is almost as much as or exceeds the value of the bus. None of these repairs will significantly increase the resale value nor will they necessarily add life to the bus. In addition, making repairs to aging buses this year does not guarantee that the buses will not need additional repairs next year as they continue to age and clock miles.

Why does the district need new buses each year?
Guilderland typically uses a long-term replacement plan to guide the bus and equipment purchases put before voters each year. This means that each year, a certain number of older buses are phased out and replaced by new models. Yet some have asked: Why do we need new buses every year? The answer is simple. The annual replacement plan of the existing bus fleet has helped to maintain student safety and control repair and maintenance costs on older buses. The replacement plan has also helped the district establish an excellent safety record with the New York State Department of Transportation.

Generally, the district replaces the older buses in our fleet (11, 12 or 13-year old vehicles). These vehicles are typically relegated to the spare bus pool, have higher mileage, higher repair costs, lesser reliability and low resale value. These are also the buses most likely to fail a Department of Transportation inspection—they are retired when it is often no longer cost effective for the district to make the repairs necessary for our fleet to meet the rigorous standards of the state.

In addition, making repairs to aging buses this year does not guarantee the buses will not need additional repairs next year as they continue to clock miles. The cost of continually repairing an older bus and purchasing replacement parts often exceeds the value of the bus and does little to increase its life or reliability.

“The idea is to rotate out buses at the end of their lives and replace them with new ones,” said Transportation Supervisor Danielle Poirier, who explained that the district sells older buses as part of an annual surplus bid. “In addition, new vehicles carry lower maintenance costs for the first five years, when they are still under warranty.”

The State Education Department recommends that districts replace small buses every five to seven years and large buses every ten years. As mentioned above, if approved by voters, the May 19 bus and equipment proposition will allow the district to replace school buses that have logged on average 140,000 miles over the past 11 to 12 years.

“Buses need to be replaced after a certain age to help keep students safe by ensuring the district operates a fleet with modern safety features and that is in good repair,” said Poirier. “Having a well thought out, long-term replacement plan also provides a mechanism for the level funding of purchases over time and minimizes the potential need for a single large purchase that could have a significant budget impact in any one particular year. The district not only saves on potential repair costs but is also able to access state aid reimbursements on new vehicles designed to lessen the financial burden on school districts.”

 

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