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'You have to do something'

School board approves purchasing four new school buses

Pictured is Clarke's school bus No. 19.
OST photo by AMY HANSEN Pictured is Clarke's school bus No. 19.

Four new school buses will soon be pulling up to Clarke Community School District.

During a Clarke School Board meeting Sept. 9, the board unanimously approved purchasing four new in-stock school buses from Thomas Bus Sales for $80,911 each.

“You have to do something. You have to do something,” said Clarke Transportation Director Rick Perin, who started in the position in July. “As a novice coming into this from the outside, I look at it and I say you’ve got to do something. It’s obvious. Anybody can see that’s obvious … anything that you buy is going to be helpful.”

A month ago, Perin recommended the board should purchase six new buses. His recommendation was based on the quality of the district’s six oldest buses.

Clarke’s oldest bus, No. 19, is 25 years old. The bus doesn’t go on routes and is for emergency use only.

Decision making

The board discussed the district’s current projects and other projects in the works that will need to be paid for in the future.

“I feel a little pushed and hurried on this, and I think I’m comfortable buying four buses,” said Board member Larry Gibbs.

Board member James Bair said he was not comfortable with buying four buses.

“I think we can get by with three buses,” Bair said. “I think we can be looking for good, used buses like we’ve done in the past through the years. I think three gets us where we need. That’s almost a-quarter of a million dollars that we’re spending on something we haven’t spent in the past. I think we need to be more diligent about keeping our eye on that busing situation out there.”

Full usage

According to Perin, school buses have a 12-year “run” for usage. The last time the district bought a new school bus was in 2007. He said if the district purchases used buses, they already have many miles and “wear and tear” on them. Used buses don’t have full warranty, either.

However, four new buses will help the current situation and get the district “past a crunch,” Perin said.

Throughout the board’s discussion, Bair came to support the idea of purchasing four new buses.

Board members asked Clarke Superintendent Benita Gonzales her opinion on the bus situation.

“Four buses — I think it gets us in a great position this year … I think we need to get ourselves into a rotation that is not going to kill us in the future when these four come up. So, I think along the way we start adding on,” she said.

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