Westview School Corporation will order three of its four 2013 buses early, following approval from the school board Thursday evening.
The request was made as prices for buses are expected to increase by 3-5 percent soon, and the bid prices from 2012 could be extended for this purchase.
The recommendation came with the caveat that the corporation does not know for certain how much money will be allotted by the state for bus replacement. The board approved ordering three of the four planned buses in case the state lowers the amount of funding to the district.
However, it was noted that the school corporation will need to maintain ordering four buses a year to replace older buses on schedule. The district has 46 buses in its fleet and will not be able to replace the entire fleet within the preferred 12 years if they only replace three per year, the board was told.
Transportation Director Jim Hostetler told the board that if they run buses more than 12 years, maintenance costs increase significantly along with the additional costs of more inspections.
Superintendent Randy Zimmerly told the board that the district is waiting to hear if their appeal to the state for additional funding per bus is approved. The state set a standard bus replacement cost of $83,000. However, the Westview district uses “beefier” buses, Zimmerly said, that run in the low $90,000 range. The buses include heavier transmissions with an engine heater, as well as other improvements that save the district money in the long term based on operating costs, he added.
In other business:
The board was told that installation of a wireless network in the high school was ahead of schedule. It was noted that students will not be able to immediately use the system when school resumes this week.
The work on a new lighting system in the high school auditorium will be rebid, as the school is looking to include high-efficiency LED lighting, which will allow the school to use some of the energy project funding for the upgrade.