As schools around the Island get ready to roll out the big yellow buses next month, the up-Island regional school committee took up the issue of transportation management for the coming school year at their meeting this week.
Chairman Michael Marcus raised the possibility of ending the district’s tradition of running its own school bus system. Committee members took a look at busing costs calculated for fiscal year 2016 and were in favor of the money the district could save by selling its fleet of six buses to the regional high school.
School business administrator Amy Tierney said the transfer of ownership would save the committee $8,000 on budgeted operations and the district would not have to pay for insurance — saving the schools an additional $12,000 and bringing the total annual savings to $20,000.
If the measure is approved, “all buses will no longer incur the capital and financing costs of purchasing or trading new vehicles,” she told the committee.
The committee voted unanimously to move forward with the transfer of ownership using the cost calculation for 2016, but committee member Jeffrey (Skipper) Manter 3rd strongly urged the district to work within a shorter timeline to make it happen.
He cited not only cost savings but potential liability as a reason to press forward.
“The liability issue that hangs out there exposes the up-Island district. The sooner we get away from that the better we are,” Mr. Manter said.
And while Ms. Tierney said insurance policies for the coming year were already set up, in the end she agreed with Mr. Manter that speeding up the transfer process was best.
The change will ultimately require a vote by the regional high school committee. Mr. Marcus asked schools superintendent Dr. James H. Weiss to write a bus transfer proposal to be presented at the next high school committee meeting, which is on Sept. 8, and Mr. Weiss agreed.
The committee expressed interest in researching the value of the buses.
“I don’t know if there’s a Kelley Blue Book version of what these buses are worth, but it would be good to get these numbers,” Mr. Marcus said.
“It’s a yellow book,” Ms. Tierney said. “It’s really expensive to buy it but I’ll find someone who has it.”