Elizabethtown-Lewis Central School Bus 73 has driven over 119,000 miles and is in need of replacement, according to Superintendent Scott Osborne.
A rapidly rising odometer has forced the hand of the Elizabethtown-Lewis Central School District.
A public referendum will be held for district voters Thursday, Feb. 6, from noon until 8 p.m. in the school lobby to consider a pair of propositions that would lead to the purchase of two new buses.
The proposed 22-passenger bus would be handicapped accessible and have an estimated price tag of no more than $65,000 while the 35-passenger bus would be purchased for a maximum of $53,000. The New York State Education Department will reimburse 63.7 percent of the purchase, allocated annually over five years, beginning in 2014-15.
Superintendent Scott Osborne said that school is facing an aging bus inventory that needs to be addressed.
“We put a lot of miles on these and our school bus fleet is aging rapidly,” Osborne said. “Right now there are no spare buses in our fleet. Two did not pass DOT inspection. We need to get back into the cycle of replacing our buses.”
Osborne said the 22-passenger, handicapped accessible bus would replace their current pair of handicapped accessible buses.
“We are really cautious with Bus 73 right now,” Osborne said. “It is far beyond the end of its lifespan with 137,443 miles on it. Our other bus, 77, has 113,939 miles on it. We are only asking for one and we would take 73 out of service and use 77 as a spare.”
The handicapped accessible bus is needed to transport students to services in Plattsburgh and Moriah. Osborne said they would only need one in the future as their number of students in need of the specialized buses was declining for the coming school year.
The second proposition, calling for the purchase of a 35 passenger bus, would replace Bus 70, which has 119,310 miles on it.
If approved, payment for the buses would come from the current budget’s fund balance.
“There would be no additional funds that would need to be raised through the tax levy,” Osborne said. “We would also get the 63.7 percent back from the state for the purchases.”
Osborne said if the propositions were defeated, the district would be faced with functioning with two, “very high mileage,” buses or contacting other school districts for a potential bus loan.
“I do not see an immediate danger right now, but we need to be proactive and looking forward to ensure the condition of our buses and the safety of our students using them,” Osborne said.
The district will be sending out an information packet on the referendum to households via mail after the Christmas break. The information is currently online at the school’s website, elcs.neric.org.
A public hearing on the matter has been scheduled for Thursday, Jan. 30, at 6 p.m. in the school conference room.
Absentee ballots can be obtained by calling District Clerk Lauri Cutting at 873-6371, and should be submitted by 5 p.m. Feb. 6.