Upgrades planned for BBPS

In their regular monthly meeting Monday evening, the Broken Bow Board of Education approved a plan to upgrade and replace some of the school’s buses in the next two years. “This is the most complete and comprehensive transportation plan I have seen in my time on the board,” said board member Don Davis, after hearing the presentation and explanation of the plan by interim superintendent Dr. Virginia Moon. The transportation plan outlines five specific goals for the school: 1. Bring 15 passenger vans into statutory compliance. 2. Update the activity bus, which has nearly 1 million miles and a touchy manual transmission, which limits the number of activity drivers. 3. Maintain a route fleet with one standby bus. 4. Build a depreciation fund sufficient to purchase one or two route buses if needed. The board has been aware for quite some time that the current 15 passenger vans will need to be replaced, as state statute does not allow them to be used to transport students after June 1. The condition of the current MCI activity bus has also been previously addressed, and the school has been on the lookout for a good deal on one. Joe Shea, Operations Manager, thinks they have found one. A 2001 MCI has been located and bid on. This bus has considerably less than half the miles of the current activity bus, and has a standard transmission. The board approved the purchase of the MCI from Sawyers, Inc., at a cost of $126,995. The purchase is contingent upon inspection of the vehicle by school officials. Shea says the plan is for Gary Russell and Jim Zlomke, two of the drivers who now operate the activity bus, to take the trip south to examine the bus. The money for the MCI was budgeted for this year, with $150,000 being budgeted in the general fund for vehicle purchases. There are also SPED ARRAY funds budgeted for vehicle purchase in the amount of $51,073, which were left from last year and must be spent this year. The Custer County Cooperative will contribute $50,000 to the vehicle budget, and the sale of some of the school’s surplus vehicles is expected to bring in another $21,000. Compiled with the current balance in the depreciation fund of $79,325, this brings the total balance of the vehicle purchase budget to $351,398. As of now the school has replaced one of the 15 passenger vans with a 12 passenger van, which was purchased for $18,900. A four-wheel-drive Suburban, which Dr. Moon says will come in handy during snowy or icy weather, has also been purchased to replace one of the vans at a cost of $6,500. One more 12 passenger van is needed, with $18,900 also being budgeted for that purchase. The school is also in search of another route bus with a lift, which is expected to cost about $55,000. Added to the $126,995 purchase price of the MCI, this brings the total expenditures for vehicle purchases for 2010-11 to $226,295. Dr. Moon explained that would leave $125,103 in the depreciation fund - enough for two bus purchases if needed down the road. The other option would be to repay the $50,000 to the CC Cooperative and leave $75,103 in the depreciation fund. Board member Ken Meyers suggested waiting another year before purchasing a different MCI. “I think we should wait and see what state aid is going to do,” Meyers explained. He says he would hate to see the board be faced with the decision of buying a new bus or cutting a position. However, the rest of the board agreed with Dr. Moon that this year, while the funds are available, is the time to move. The proposed bus purchase plan was approved 4-1, with Meyers voting against. An agenda item that received a lot of discussion but required no action was was a building and maintenance plan review presented by Joe Shea. The plan outlines projects for this school year, as well as a tentative plan for the next four years. Shea explains these projects are designed as more of a long-term plan that an “it’s broke let’s fix it” plan. In the project plan, Shea broke down how the school plans spend this year’s $81,475 building budget. Top priority was given to the actual learning environment, with energy efficiency also being a high priority. The plan calls for improvements to North Park, Custer, Middle School and High School. “We are assuming that for the foreseeable future Custer will remain part of the school system,” Dr. Moon explained. “We have included projects at Custer as well, with the understanding that it can only be used to facilitate two grades. There is not enough room for more than that.” Some of the items included in the plan for the two elementary schools are updates to the kitchens to make them fire code compliant, relamping with energy efficient lighting, and cleaning the sandstone and brick exterior. Each bathroom at Custer will also have one stall converted to handicapped accessible. Both the high school and middle school will also have the exteriors cleaned and convert to energy efficient lighting. Shea says he is checking on any available grant money for the energy efficiency conversion. The high school will have the exhaust fans in the locker rooms replaced, and heating and air conditioning extended to the Industrial Arts classroom. A dust collection system will be installed in the wood working shop, and the partitions in the high school restrooms will be replaced. The conversion to energy efficient lighting will carry over to the activity building and locker rooms, and additional security cameras are planned for installation outside throughout the district. Shea says some of these projects will be completed during Christmas break, with the remainder being done over summer vacation. Because the board has put more money in the building fund this year than in some years past, several additional projects will be able to be completed during the 2010-11 school year. These projects include installing energy efficient windows in the middle school, doing an electrical upgrade in the middle school, and installing air to air heat pumps in the middle school and activities building. Looking down the road at some of the tentative long-range projects being planned, Shea mentioned installing air to air heat pumps at Custer, and intercom and bell system at both elementary schools in 2011-12. A new roof is planned at North Park during the 2012-13 school year, as well as the installation of a new HVAC system at that school. The installation of energy efficient windows in the high school is planned for the 2013-14 school year, with tuck pointing planned for the entire district during 2014-15.