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School board approves purchase of two buses for $68,000

The Jamestown Public School Board unanimously approved the purchase of two 14-passenger school buses in the total amount of about $68,000.

JSSP School News
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JAMESTOWN – The Jamestown Public School Board unanimously approved the purchase of two 14-passenger school buses in the total amount of about $68,000.

A special meeting of the school board was held Wednesday, May 18, after the board gave Superintendent Rob Lech permission to seek two used 14-passenger buses that do not require drivers to have a commercial driver’s license to operate the vehicles on Monday, May 16, during its regular meeting.

The two used 2014 Chevrolet Collins buses from Dakota Bus Sales LLC in Hurley, South Dakota, each have more than 75,700 miles on them and cost about $34,000 per unit. Lech said Monday it is difficult to find used 14-passenger school buses and they are expensive.

“They are reasonably priced,” he said. “I think if we could replace our Blue Jay vans with 14-passenger buses, I think our activities department would be much happier. They would be able to use them for more activities. I think they would be more comfortable for our students. I think they would be a safer vehicle.”

The Jamestown Public School District’s preferred option is to have 14-passenger buses because drivers are required to have a valid driver’s license and take a safety course, Lech said Monday. He said the buses have more space than the school district’s two vans.

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He said the school district’s two vans have helped in some instances, but they are smaller and the wheelbase is narrower, which makes them a safety issue.

He said it has been a struggle this school year to get students to events.

“I think from an activities standpoint, it’s become very very frustrating when we can’t do field trips or we can’t do activities,” he said. “We don’t know what to do with parents driving or renting vans when they are not available when we all know you can’t rent right now because those vehicles don’t exist. I’m not sure what option exists.”

On Monday, school board member Aaron Roberts questioned if the school district should purchase the buses since the district was projected to be deficit spending this school year.

“The picture now is different than what it was at the beginning of the year,” said Sally Ost, business manager, referring to the school district’s projected deficit spending.

Roberts also asked if the fees for activities should be looked at to help defray the cost of the buses.

“In the short term no. In the long term yes you could increase your activity fees although I think you have already done that,” Lech said. “From my perspective, it’s an investment that we can absorb even if we got to the point where it would be a deficit this year, I think the impact in the $30 million plus budget would be relatively marginal that we could absorb. … I don’t know what choice we have. I think it is something that we need to do.”

Lech said the two vans could be sold to help defray the costs of purchasing the buses.

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School board member Diane Hanson said her job is to make sure Lech is doing his job.

“My experience has been if he tells me there is very few alternatives, I know there is very few alternatives,” she said. “ … I would say, deficit spending or not, if our superintendent says this is an area that needs attention, I think we should really listen.”

Lech said his original intention was to add the buses into the budget for next year and address the situation through the budget process.

“I would like to think rather than building that into the budget, making that decision now would provide what we need as soon as possible but at a cheaper option,” he said.

Masaki Ova joined The Jamestown Sun in August 2021 as a reporter. He grew up on a farm near Pingree, N.D. He majored in communications at the University of Jamestown, N.D.
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