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School board approves new buses

Posted: January 15, 2014 - 11:33pm

At its Monday night meeting the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Board of Education approved funds to purchase activity buses.

The board unanimously allocated $687,080 to the student transportation fund for five new buses. The buses will be used for student activity transportation, not home-to-school transportation.

Dave Jones, assistant superintendent, said some current activity buses have become aged, so new buses are needed.

According to background information provided by the administration, leasing transportation can occasionally work, but due to the number of schools and activities requiring transportation at similar times, contracting transportation services is not always a viable option.

KPBSD spokesperson Pegge Erkeneff said Nikiski High School, Kenai Central High School, Seward High School, Homer High School and Soldotna High School will get new buses.

Jones said the cost for the new buses is based on quotes from vendors. The buses will have storage compartments below and separate from the seating area.

The storage area underneath the bus will free up seats for more students to utilize instead of teams having to store equipment on seats and it is safer to store equipment in a separate compartment, Erkeneff wrote in an email.

“If the bus was involved in an accident, team equipment could pose a hazard to students and adults on the bus,” Erkeneff wrote.

Board member Penny Vadla asked at the meeting if other, smaller schools can lease the buses from the larger schools.

Jones said the smaller schools typically don’t need the larger buses and the administration is encouraging schools to share activity buses.

Erkeneff further said in an email sharing buses is happening to a degree. Elementary schools borrow high school buses and high schools with small teams sometimes share a bus if they are going to the same event.

When activity buses or drivers aren’t available, Erkeneff said the KPBSD will charter bus trips from its route bus company, First Student.

The state provides funding for route buses, according to the background information provided with the agenda item.

Jones said the activity buses have to pass the same state tests as route buses and drives must have a CDL license.

Erkeneff wrote that the district currently owns 31 activity buses of various size, age and condition. Two of the buses are out of service.

Following state inspection of the district’s fleet of buses this summer, several activity buses may be retired and put up for auction, Erkeneff wrote.

Kaylee Osowski can be reached at kaylee.osowski@peninsulaclarion.com.

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