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Bus purchases proposed to reduce future costs

On May 21, voters will decide on the purchase of five buses: three 71-passenger school buses, one of which would have a luggage box, one 36-passenger bus and one 56-passenger, wheelchair-accessible school bus. Each of the buses would include air conditioning, and the total purchase cost would not exceed $675,137.

All school buses must pass a rigorous state inspection twice annually. For the 2017-18 school year, F-M buses had a 99.2% passing rate. F-M normally replaces its buses after 10 years, when it is no longer cost effective to make the repairs necessary to meet those standards.

The district typically spends about $6,200 in repairs to a 10-year-old bus. That figure jumps to $10,500 in year 11 and $16,000 in year 12. Each of the vehicles the district is proposing to replace is at least 10 years old and has been driven an average of 159,894 miles.

If voters approve the purchase, the state would reimburse the district over a five-year period for about 72% of the cost of the new vehicles. Local property taxes would pay the remainder of the cost, which would be $37,689 annually for five years. The district plans to auction the five buses to be replaced.

During the 2017-18 school year, F-M buses served 4,618 public and private school students, traveling a total of 784,956 miles.