SUGAR GROVE – Kids cannot learn in school if they can’t get there.
Kaneland School District 302 once again is taking steps to ensure kids can get to and from school by way of bus by approving the purchase of five, one-year-old replacement school buses while trading in others.
“If you can’t get the kids to school, who are you going to teach,” asked Dr. Julie-Ann Fuchs, School District 302 associate superintendent. “This has worked out well so far, and we’re trying to be fiscally responsible by continuing to replace our fleet as needed.”
The buses will cost $352,545. The original cost is $397,045, but there’s a trade-in value of $44,500. The board approved the purchase at its meeting Feb. 12.
During the 2017-18 school year, the district replaced seven buses with one-year-old buses and a 21-passenger bus, spending $582,430.
Despite the district’s continued focus on finding ways to reduce planned expenditures, it still found a way to replace its bus fleet at a lower cost by opting for one-year replacement buses.
“Transportation is one of the areas where we’ve been looking to save some money,” Fuchs said. “The one-year buses have worked really well for the district, and it’s been that way for a few years now.”
Midwest Transit Equipment Inc., the same company that has awarded the district its school buses for many years, also is supplying these buses.
The buses had been used by other school districts that are replacing their fleets with new buses and no longer have a need for them. Each bus costs $78,149 and includes a five-year chassis warranty and has less than 20,000 miles on it.
“Some have 15,000 miles, others have five or six [thousand],” Fuchs said. “The most would be 20,000 miles.”
Kaneland averages about 17,000 miles per year on each bus.
Board members expressed some concern that costs and budget cuts elsewhere might make such a purchase at this time less feasible, but District 302 Superintendent Dr. Todd Leden eased such worries.
“Based on the conversations we’ve had internally with the number of reductions and totals we have to make, we are comfortable in making the purchase of five buses to maintain the fleet,” Leden said. “We do not expect cuts that would dramatically affect any one area for the next school year.”
Teresa Witt, board president, had questions regarding the decision process of replacing buses and if it’s possible to pare it down further.
“I understand how we get to which ones we trade in and things like that,” Witt said. “I guess I’m wondering if somewhere between six and seven is recommended, do we pare that down based on cost numbers or do we actually say, ‘You know our best fleet, even though it’s aging well, do we think we can get by with five buses?’”
Fuchs said she strongly recommended that they do not pare it down any further.
“We’ve done that before and what happened was you then have a year where you have to catch up,” she said. “We want to get to a place where we can sustain. We don’t want to find ourselves wishing we did something different by purchasing zero and then trying to make up for it.”
Finally, the replacement buses won’t have white roofs.
Fuchs explained that the reasoning behind the white roofs is that they supposedly keep buses cooler during the hot months and that they were the preference of a previous director.