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Guilderland proposes purchasing school buses

District would bond nearly $1M for vehicles, face voter approval

— School district voters will likely vote on a separate proposition alongside next year’s proposed budget this May, which includes purchasing eight buses and a maintenance truck for nearly $1 million.

Danielle Poirier, transportation supervisor for the Guilderland Central School District, presented the proposed purchase of six 66-passenger buses for $694,000, a 66-passenger bus with chains for $120,000, a full-size wheelchair bus for $145,000 and a $36,000 maintenance truck to the Board of Education on Tuesday, March 4. State aid would cover about 50 percent of the $995,000 purchase, according to district officials.

The bond proposal would be placed on the 2014-15 school budget ballot as a separate proposition, and board members are scheduled to vote on purchases at its Tuesday, March 18, meeting.

Board Vice President Allan Simpson questioned if the bus purchases were the most economical choice given the fiscal stress facing the district. Simpson also asked if there was another, less expensive option.

Assistant Superintendent for Business Neil Sanders said the purchase is a “needs-based approach” for the aging district fleet. The district also attempts to follow its vehicle and equipment replacement schedule.

“We buy a few buses each year and those age out, so now we are at the 11-, 12-, 13-year mark of those buses within the fleet where reliability becomes a question,” Sanders said. “What we are talking about is phasing out buses that are at the end of their life and replacing them with new buses … so we always have an infusion of new equipment and updated safety requirements.”

Fleet Supervisor Mitch Carkner said the district has already fallen behind on replacing buses, and delaying the proposed purchase would be detrimental.

“We still have three buses that should have been surplused already, so I kept buses on the property for parts because, as the time went on, as we’ve been purchasing vehicles, we haven’t maintained the numbers of big vehicles,” Carkner said. “With this replacement tonight, we will still be short of the goal of our replacement cycle that was started years ago.”

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