The Sanger school district will soon add four new school buses to its fleet.
At a school board meeting last week, trustees gave their approval for the district to purchase two 71-passenger buses and two 14-passenger buses, according to Eric Beam, Sanger’s deputy superintendent.
One 71-passenger bus will be powered by propane and one by diesel, and one of the 14-passenger buses will be equipped with a wheelchair lift, Beam said. Costs total $328,000. According to Beam, money supporting the purchase will come from the district’s “general fund on a three-year lease purchase.”
“The district has approximately 20 functional buses. We are trying to improve safety and quality,” Beam said in an email. “Currently, we have nine non-working buses that will be retired due to an aging fleet.”
The purchase of additional buses was among the top priorities included in an estimated $2.5 million capital improvement project list Superintendent Kent Crutsinger presented to the school board last fall. Other high priorities listed in the presentation were roof replacement and a heating, ventilation and air conditioning system at Chisholm Trail Elementary School and technology infrastructure upgrades.
Crutsinger said in an interview last year that some of the buses in the district’s fleet were more than 20 years old.
In recent months, University Interscholastic League realignments have been part of the district’s discussion on purchasing new buses. School board members considered the distance athletes would potentially travel to compete.
One concern was whether the district’s propane buses could travel “a far range,” said board President Ken Scribner. Newer propane buses, he said, have an increased fuel capacity, giving them a longer range. Scribner said that just last year the district purchased two propane buses.
He said he believes that new buses the district purchases that are fueled with propane gas have a larger tank and will increase the “safe range” of mileage the district travels.
Other top priority capital improvement projects that are currently underway around the district are the roof replacement and HVAC work at Chisholm Trail Elementary. The board approved the projects in April. Crutsinger has said that the existing roof and HVAC system date back to when the school was built in 1987, and that it was becoming “increasingly more difficult to find parts” to support heat pump units for the HVAC system.
Beam said the district is spending more than $1.8 million for the roof replacement and HVAC work, and the project is being funded mainly with designated reserves and some money from the district’s general fund. The district has hired Integral Solutions for the projects.
Work began June 9 at Chisholm Trail Elementary and is slated for completion by the end of July, and the district anticipates its new buses will be delivered within the next four to five months, Beam said.