Oxford Schools is looking to spend a total $1.5 million on new buses using proceeds from its recently approved $28.28 million bond.
Although the district will not be receiving proceeds until after the first bonds are sold in late May, officials are already putting a plan in place to ensure the district can get the biggest bang for its buck.
Assistant Superintendent of Business and Operations Sam Barna, along with Transportation Supervisor Ann Weeden, gave a presentation to the Board of Education at its January 9 meeting about a proposed bid the district recently received for the purchase of new school buses.
Included in the proposed bid, which was issued by Lansing-based Capital City Buses through the Michigan School Business Officials (MSBO) bus purchase program, was a total of 12 new school buses for just under $989,000.
These new buses would include four 71-passenger buses and six 76-passenger buses; along with two 53-passenger buses which have a wheelchair lift and are used to transport students with special needs.
The MSBO bus purchase program is a statewide competitive bidding program offered by nonprofit corporation Michigan School Business Officials.
While district officials have not yet collected any bond proceeds or sinking fund proceeds Barna told the Board of Education that it would be beneficial to approve the proposed bid before district bonds are sold.
Under state law, school districts are barred from using sinking fund proceeds to purchase buses and may only use bond proceeds.
Should officials approve this purchase, the district would not have to pay anything until the buses are delivered in June 2018.
Barna added that the district would likely be able to get more buses for less money by purchasing them through the MSBO program before it closes bidding on January 31.
“(The MSBO program) does open up again in April, but there could be price increases associated with these specific buses,” Barna explained. “(This) will allow us for (roughly) $1 million to purchase 12 instead of (the expected) ten buses. The assumption within (the district’s) bond application was (that it would cost) $1.5 million at $100,000 (per) bus (and that we would only be purchasing 15. It’s a beautiful thing that we were able to capture two more buses because of the lower cost of these competitive bids.”
Weeden added that getting a head-start on ordering the buses would also ensure that they would arrive before the start of the next school year.
“We’d like to have these buses here and ready to roll when we start (school) on August 27,” Weeden told the board. “A lot of times, the longer you wait, you may not have those buses the first day of school. We may have them by the end of September or maybe October if we wait.”
If approved, this would be the first batch of new buses the district will purchase, with officials having allocated a total of $1.5 million in bond proceeds towards the purchase of new buses.
School officials have also pledged to put any leftover bond proceeds towards the purchase of new buses.
If the board approves the purchase, the district’s oldest buses would be replaced by these new buses, which seat roughly the same number of students as the old buses.
This would replace 24 percent of the district’s current fleet, according to Barna.
According to Weeden, the old buses would then be sold for parts, auctioned off, or scrapped depending on their condition.
If the purchase is approved, Oxford Schools will put the order in by the MSBO program’s Jan. 31 deadline and the new buses would be likely to arrive before the start of the 2018-19 school year.
The board is expected to approve the purchase of the new buses at its next meeting, January 23 at 6:30 p.m.