By following a fleet replacement plan, the Brewster Central School District has been able to maintain a fleet of safe buses at an anticipated cost, according to Transportation Supervisor Mary Smith.
During the Feb. 25 Brewster School Board meeting, Smith explained that as part of the budget process, she is recommending the district purchase nine buses this year.
Of the district’s 98 total buses, she said 46 are five years old or “younger,” nine are between 6 and 10 years old, 37 are between 11 and 15 years old, and six are at least 16 years old.
“I have to tell you that we maintain these buses very well,” she said.
In addition, Smith noted that her recommended bus purchase is determined through discussions with the district’s mechanics, looking at the bus runs, and assessing other data.
“This is not just thrown together,” she said. “This is a number based on what we need to make sure that we have enough vehicles to service the students.”
The district is seven years into its fleet replacement plan. According to Assistant Superintendent for Finance and Operations Victor Karlsson, planning to purchase a few buses every year protects the district from large spikes in unanticipated purchases.
The buses are paid off over the course of five years, so this year, the payments on buses purchased in 2015-16 will be ending, making way for the new bus purchases.
In addition, the district is able to use New York State transportation aid, which has an aid ratio of about 49 percent. “So it almost works as a buy one, get one free deal,” said Karlsson.
The net incremental cost will be about $2 for the average homeowner, he said, adding that the first payment on bus purchases is always deferred to the next year, so any purchase made this year will not impact the 2020-21 budget.
“By 2023-24, there will be no incremental cost,” said Karlsson. “The cost of the buses will be completely imbedded within the budget and there will be absolutely no additional cost on the budget each year.”
Smith added that the new buses are fully equipped with GPS navigational systems, security cameras, stop-arm cameras and warrantees.