GUILDERLAND: Board hears bus proposal

At its Tuesday, Jan. 23, meeting, the Guilderland school board heard an equipment purchase proposal for the 2007-2008 school year.

The proposal, which was outlined by Assistant superintendent for Business Neil Sanders, included the purchase of 11 buses and a pick-up truck with plow.

The entire proposal carries a cost of $835,000 and would add to the district's fleet five 65-passenger buses, three 30-passenger buses and three 24-passenger buses that could be equipped with wheelchair seating. The district is eligible to receive up to $390,000 in state aid for the purchases.

The new buses would replace 10 buses in the district's fleet that currently have between 105,000 miles and 168,000 miles. The truck that would be replaced is 12 years old and has 140,000 miles. There are currently 91 active buses and 24 spares in the district's fleet.

The new buses are being added as part of the district's rolling purchase schedule, every new bus replaces an active one, which then becomes a spare.

Board member Hy Dubowsky asked if the buying schedule is in place so that the district always has enough buses at its disposal rather than getting sticker shock when you have no buses one day.

Sanders said that it was.

Dubowsky also sought clarification on where the need for new buses arises, and said he often hears questions like: "Why do we have to have new buses each year?"

Sanders said that under the current routing system, the same bus conducts runs to the elementary, middle and high schools in both the morning and the afternoon.

"So we're putting on a tremendous amount of miles," said Sanders. "Our whole fleet produces 1.5 million miles annually."

Dubowsky also inquired about the issue of upkeep on buses, notably rust.

According to Sanders, the state Department of Transportation is stringent in its standards for school buses, and that rust can't simply be patched; if there is rust on the bus, the entire panel must be replaced.

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