Niagara Gazette

Local News

February 3, 2014

Voters set to decide fate of Niagara-Wheatfield bus plan

Niagara Gazette — After a month of discussing transportation needs, Niagara-Wheatfield voters will make a decision whether to spend up to $500,000 on new buses.

Polls open from noon to 8 p.m. Tuesday in the adult learning center of the district’s high school, 2292 Saunders Settlement Road, Lewiston. It’s necessary in order to allow the school board to make the purchase, something the district hasn’t been asked to perform since May 2011.

“This is something district needs,” board President Steve Sabo said. “If we want to continue to safely transport our students to school, and not worry about being late or having them stranded because a bus breaks down, this is one step to ensuring that happens.”

The district plans on buying four large, 60-passenger buses and one smaller bus if voters approve.

If given the go-ahead, the vote would help the district establish a replacement schedule for its fleet of 70, taking old buses out of service in favor of new vehicles. Currently, the district has more than a dozen buses 10 years old or greater, which Superintendent Lynn Fusco said has led to $100,000 spending towards repairs through the first four months of the school year and $265,000 in 2012-13.

A replacement plan would allow the district to reinvest all aid it receives on the purchases of new buses on the subsequent purchases of the next set of vehicles, essentially creating a roll-over with each new purchase funding additional buses. The idea, according to district leaders, is to limit the impact on taxpayers as much as possible.

The school board had a debate in December before deciding to purchase on whether to buy or lease the buses. Leasing came at a much reduced cost — Business Manager Allison Brady leasing the same number of buses would come to less than $200,000 — but would require the district return the vehicles after the lease term is up and would cause the district to either lease or buy twice as many buses at the time.

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