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Brod asks board for two buses

By Staff | Mar 14, 2011

Dan Brod

The buses at Blue Earth Area Schools are in good shape, but they aren’t getting any ‘younger,’ says Dan Brod, transportation coordinator at BEA.

“We have 21 total buses in our fleet, and the average model year is a 1995,” he told the BEA School at a budget work session last Thursday night. “The average year for our route buses is 2005, and that isn’t bad.”

However, that doesn’t mean the district can skip purchasing some new buses. Brod told the board he feels BEA needs to buy two new units this coming fiscal year – which starts in July.

“Our buses have an average of 92,000 miles on them,” he says. “If we don’t stay on our replacement schedule, that average will be 105,000 miles.”

A new bus will cost the district around $84,000. With some extras, such as strobe lights, heated mirrors and sales tax, Brod expects the total cost for two units to be $185,000.

Brod and the board also discussed possibly purchasing buses which run on propane fuel. Although the cost is $10,000 more, there could be savings in the long run.

Two buses are not the only purchases Brod wants the district to make.

BEA has three cars and three vans in its transportation fleet.

“One of the cars is a 2000 Buick Century,” Brod explains. “State law says we can’t use a car to transport students that is 12 years old or older. So we need to replace it next year.”

That cost will be $15,000 to $20,000, he estimates.

This makes the total capital outlay for transportation at $205,000.

That amount is included in the current preliminary draft of the 2011-2012 budget, says BEA Finance Officer Alan Wilhelmi.

Also in the preliminary budget is $362,728 for building improvements. Buildings and Grounds Supervisor Al Gieser presented a list of proposed items for all the buildings in the BEA system.

The total came to $352,963, nearly $10,000 under budget.

BEA Superintendent Dale Brandsoy cautioned several times that the budget numbers were just preliminary, and will change many times before the final version is presented to the board.

Wilhelmi agreed, pointing out that numbers for such things as Q-comp, staff changes and special programs are not included at this time.

Some of those staff changes will be dramatic, Brandsoy says.

“We are looking at seven staff retirements next year,” he says. “That could mean a big savings, of nearly $150,000, depending on who is hired to replace them.”

The budget for next year will be presented at the April board meeting, and given final approval at the May meeting.