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$1.4M: Brandon School Board plans new bus purchases



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November 13, 2013 - Brandon Twp.- The school district is planning to add 15 new buses to their fleet next year.

The purchases will total just over $1.4 million, to be financed with an annual debt payment of $203,757.

Transportation Director Debbie Allen recommended the purchase of buses rather than leasing options during a special school board meeting Nov. 11. The board will vote on the matter at the Dec. 16 regular school board meeting.

"The shape of our fleet is failing fast," said Allen. "We have put off the purchase of buses and the state police bus inspection is coming soon. A red tag on a bus means it will be pulled off the road and can't be driven until it's fixed."

She continued by noting that the Michigan State Police, who inspect school buses annually, have new regulations which are stringent and she is concerned about rust on several of the oldest buses at Brandon, which are 1999 models she described as "Fred Flintstone mobiles."

"We've really Band-Aided some of these buses," Allen said.

Some currently owned 2006 buses which are also "about done" will become substitute buses.

While the district has leased some buses the last few years under the suggestion of former district finance director Steve Lenar, leasing is no longer an attractive financial option. In Allen's presentation, 7-year leasing plans showed a very minimal savings. The district's purchase of the International model buses, including 11 for general education students (77-passenger capacity) and four buses for special needs students (each with 53-passenger capacity and two of which will have air conditioning to accomodate medical needs) will include a 10-year warranty on the Cummins engines.

"With that warranty, we're very confident we will get at least 10 years from the buses, probably 12," said Superintendent Lorrie McMahon. "We will have years when we aren't making payments on those buses."

Allen also noted that leasing a bus is just like leasing a car, with return condition requirements and limitations on mileage.

If the buses are ordered in December, the district should have them by June.

Susan covers Brandon Township and Ortonville
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