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SRCS officials hope to plot bus replacement plan

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FORT COVINGTON - Salmon River School District officials hope to follow a plan that will enable them to replace two school buses every year for the next 10 years at minimal cost.

The 10-year bus replacement plan details a cycle of state aid and relatively small annual investments from the school to guarantee the SRCS fleet is state Department of Transportation approved.

School Business Executive Natascha Jock said at this week’s school board meeting that five buses currently on the road for Salmon River will likely not pass inspection next year. The school has buses up to 15 years old, with 17 of the 28 currently in use sporting close to or more than 100,000 miles of wear and tear.

Salmon River officials hope to add a 66-passenger bus, a 30-passenger bus and a new Suburban to their bus fleet in the upcoming budget. The Suburban, Ms. Jock said, is useful for small sports teams and for transferring one or two students to and from the local program for the deaf.

The value of these vehicles totals $245,000, but by carrying over unused bus aid from previous years, SRCS will actually produce a $14,000 aid surplus by purchasing the vehicles.

The surplus will trickle down in the bus plan for about three years, causing the 2015-16 two 60-passenger bus replacements to cost the school only a little more than $1,000.

By the 2020-21 school year, state aid will even out to produce a steady $21,477.10 a year investment from the school to continue the replacement cycle.

“I think it’s in our best interest to constantly be replacing our buses,” Ms. Jock advised the board.

The proposal for new buses did stir questions from the board about old buses, however.

Board member Pete Ghostlaw asked, “What are we doing with the stockpile of ones that are growing grass in the back?”

Ms. Jock explained that some of the retired buses are currently being used for storage. The remaining buses, however, could be auctioned off in the near future.

She said she is currently researching online auctions for this purpose, citing the success of multiple area schools in reaching out to unload their extra buses.

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