Clinton City Schools has been given the nod of approval to proceed with the purchase of two new school buses at a cost of $180,000.
Superintendent Dr. Stuart Blount requested county commissioners’ approval for five-year financing for school buses on Monday. During the Clinton City School board meeting June 2, members considered entering into a 5-year financing option for the purchase of the two yellow buses. According to Blount, when schools seek to use a 5-year option rather than a 3-year option, approval is required from the Board of Commissioners.
The Sampson County Board of Commissioners unanimously granted Blount’s request during their meeting Monday night.
According to the bid tabulation provided by Susan Harrison, finance director for Clinton City Schools, Southern Bank has granted a 5-year loan with a fixed interest rate of 1.69 percent, for a total of $9,129.33 paid in interest.
The system will make annual payments to the bank at a rate of $39,042 in the first year, $38,433.60 in the second year, $37,825.20 in the third year, $37,220.13 in the fourth year and $36,608.40 in the final year. The total amount, with interest, is $189,129.33.
The need for the additional buses was presented to the school board in February when Blount informed the members that the buses currently in the system’s fleet were filling to capacity, creating a huge problem.
According to Blount, the bus fleet transports 1,509 bus riders on a daily bases across the roadways in the district. Many of those students are either out of district students or students who are being transported to after-school care, a job Blount said the district isn’t required to do.
State law requires a system to transport students to one location — their primary residence. With the system now facing an overcrowding issue on the buses, Blount said the board needs to make one of two decisions — spend money to purchase two new buses or eliminate the option to transport out of district students and those going to after-school care.
“For us to continue transporting these students,” Blount said, “we are hit with the job of purchasing two new buses.”
The original quote for the two new yellow buses was $169,298. The monies, Harrison said, would come from the system’s capital outlay budget. Initial plans were to go with a three-year option.
Purchasing new buses wasn’t the only solution to the system’s problem. When Blount presented the problem to members in February, he said that the system was currently transporting students to locations other than their homes. This procedure has always been done as a courtesy, because space was available.
“Administrators were having to watch students getting on the buses everyday to make sure they weren’t overloaded,” Blount said.
According to the numbers Blount presented in February, there were 42 students who lived out of district, but continued to ride a school bus. A total of 99 students were riding the bus to some form of day care, not including at-home day cares.
The spending won’t stop at the purchase of the buses. According to Blount, the system will have to hire two additional drivers and fund the expense of fuel and maintenance on the buses. Blount’a suggestion was to stop providing transportation for the 99 students who were either out of district of riding to an after-school care program.
Board members E.R. Mason, Georgina Zeng and Carol Worley made their opinions clear during the January work session, stating they could not eliminate any transportation for any students with a clear conscience. Board member Diane Viser said purchasing the two new buses was an expense the system didn’t need to take on at the current time.
The purchase of the two additional buses was unanimously passed by both the Clinton City Schools board and County Commissioners.
Reach Kristy D. Carter at 910-592-8137, ext. 2588. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd. Like us on Facebook.