Activity buses cost less than coach buses and they’re safer, but they are still more comfortable than traditional school buses, the Great Bend USD 428 school board learned Monday.
Assistant Superintendent Khris Thexton reported on capital outlay projects, and got the green light to get bids on an activity bus for Great Bend Middle School.
Like the Panther coach buses, these feature storage under the bus, drop down DVD monitors and mascot graphics. He recommended buying one for the middle school because there is more travel now that GBMS has competitive sports in an area league.
Thexton showed the board a Blue Bird All American Activity Bus which seats 46-47 students. However, he said Thomas-brand buses could also fit the specifications he is ready to release to bidders.
“You can dress it up some,” he said, showing examples of wrappers proposed by Mark’s Custom Signs of Great Bend.
It could also be a backup bus for the high school Panther buses. One of the two coaches buses has been out of commission with a part on order, and repairs have cost $80,000 of the life of the bus.
Activity buses cost less than coach buses, in part because they have smaller engines. Thexton said the district could spend $150,000 for a 12-year-old coach bus with 500,000 miles, but for $175,000 to $200,000 it can get a brand new activity bus customized for Great Bend.
“It makes a lot of sense,” Superintendent Brad Reed said.
Board President Joyce Carter said she had received information about activity buses vs. coach buses at a recent Kansas Association of School Boards meeting.
“Coach buses are no longer recommended,” she said. With activity buses, “we would really be upgrading our safety standards.”
Hearing the benefits, board member Chris Umphres asked if the district should buy two activity buses instead of one. Administrators said they would like to try one bus.
“It’s better if you stagger these type of purchases,” Reed said, noting that way two buses won’t need to be replaced at the same time.
Thexton reported on other capital outlay projects as well. About $300,000 will be spent on roof repairs at GBHS this summer.
The high school is facing a million dollar roof replacement, but it can be done in phases over three years, Thexton said.
The parking lot at the Washington Early Education Center will also be repaved this summer.
The house at 1812 Morphy St. that the district bought in Decmeber will be razed and the lot cleaned up by Stone, which bid $3,500 on the project, Reed said. There are no other plans for the lot at this time.