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Southern Ulster TimesHighland purges bus fleet

Highland purges bus fleet

In the past few months the Highland School district has been taking an inventory of their current bus fleet and has classified many as surplus vehicles.

In late July the school board accepted bids for five surplus vehicles: Four vehicles went to Juan Flores- A 2002 Blue Bird 66 passenger for $1,589; a 2003 Blue Bird 66 passenger for $1,609; a 2004 Blue Bird 66 passenger for $1,809; a 2005 Blue Bird 66 passenger for $2,259; and a 2003 7 passenger Chevy Suburban went to the Hudson Valley Bus Company for $750.

Transportation Director Doug Carter advised the school board on the condition of five additional Bluebird 66 passenger buses that he recommended should be sold “as is” at the earliest opportunity. Three have mileage totals over 200,000 but two have mileages of 103,000 and 108,000.

Carter described the conditions of these five buses.

“These vehicles have been taken out of service due to excessive mechanical and/or corrosion problems in addition to high mileage, which makes repairs impractical and not cost effective. Buses #145 and #147 require replacement of their rotted, wooden floors, entrance door and exhaust system replacement and frequent, expensive maintenance of their diesel emissions system,” he wrote.

The later two buses with the corrosion problems are the ones with the lower mileages of 103,000 and 108,000. At a previous board meeting it was noted that a certain number of buses were affected with corrosion and rot because they were parked over earth instead of over a paved surface.

Carter said during the 2016-17 school year a new bus maintenance software program was implemented, crediting Shop Manager Don Dibble “who invested many hours in learning the software and entering data about parts, vendors, services and all things related to bus maintenance into the program.” He pointed out that this new program will “improve our abilities to analyze bus garage operations and create reports on bus maintenance.”

In a June 30 memo to the school board Carter said the delivery of five new propane buses and three vans is underway, with two already in Highland “and more expected soon.” He indicated that all will be ready by September 1.

Carter noted that during the summer the bus scheduling for all Highland students has been done.

“New kindergartners have been entered into our transportation database and all current students rolled over into the next grade. Every bus route is reviewed to ensure the desired balance of safety, efficiency and economy,” he wrote.

Carter also touched upon the issue of providing transportation to homeless students. He pointed out that under the federal McKinney-Vento Act “qualifying homeless students are entitled to busing to the district of origin, if they choose, while they lack ‘fixed, adequate and regular’ housing. Carter stated that in the 2016-17 school year the district had a half-dozen homeless students, “including one family residing nearly 50 miles away.” He wrote “to these students credit, they maintained excellent attendance in school despite their extreme distance and long bus ride.”

By Mark Reynolds

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