VANDALIA — The Vandalia-Butler Board of Education voted to purchase 24 new school buses at its work session on Tuesday night.
The Board approved an authorization for the district to do a lease-purchase agreement not to exceed $1.925 million from Cardinal Bus. The district will also purchase six used school buses from First Student, Inc. at a cost of $242,000.
The move comes as the district is negotiating with Community Bus Service of Youngstown to replace First Student as its transportation provider. The district’s contract with First Student was terminated two years into a five year term after several routing errors and accidents marred the start of the 2014-15 school year.
Superintendent Bradley Neavin said last month that the district desired to own its own equipment.
“Ultimately, it is our desire to own our own equipment,” said Neavin. “One of the reasons we got buses from First Student initially was due to the age of our fleet and the financial condition of the district at the time. As a result, the average age of our buses has been reduced significantly. We are in a better place now, so we will see what the best options are.”
Treasurer Eric Beavers said that the district will ultimately save money by buying new buses instead of repurchasing its fleet from First Student. He said that re-purchasing those buses would require the district to buy three new buses per year beginning in 2016.
“At the end of the four year leasing period, we will have saved $185,381 and will own our own buses,” said Beavers. “By owning our own buses, the new service contract will also be less than it was with First Student.”
That is because First Student’s contract had the modernization of the district’s fleet calculated into its contracted rate.
“We don’t know how much that will save on the contract at this time,” said Beavers. “It is still being negotiated.”
The used buses being bought will be used as spare buses. The district is purchasing five 2010 model 84-passenger buses with between 60-80,000 miles and in “average” condition according to Mark Barhorst, Director of Human Resources and Operations.
The other used bus being purchased is a 2009 handicapped equipped bus.
“This gives us a decent number of spares,” said Barhorst.
Beavers said the purchase is a good deal for the district and taxpayers.
“At the end of the four year lease, this is the best way of maximizing the reduction of dollars spent while obtaining ownership of the fleet,” he said.