The new activity bus at Great Bend USD 428 hit the road almost as soon as it was delivered, and Monday the school board approved the purchase of a second bus.
Kansas Truck Equipment Company, the firm that sold Great Bend its last bus, had the low bid for a 2018 model for $179,781. Assistant Superintendent Khris Thexton said the price is $4,370 more than the 2017 model previously purchased. The price does not include adding graphics, which costs about $10,000.
There was also a bid from Ross Transportation Inc. for $186,200.
Superintendent Brad Reed said students and drivers like the new bus. “It seems to be meeting our needs really well.”
Maintenance on older buses is getting expensive, but Thexton said they won’t retire them entirely.
“The plan is to keep them as long as we can, but slowly move them out of the fleet,” Reed said.
The board also approved the purchase of a 2017 pickup from the low bidder, Dove Chevrolet, Buick, Cadillac, for $18,588. Thexton said the Chevrolet Silverado 1500 was comparable to the Ram 1500 Tradesman and the Ford F-150 offered by Marmie Motors and Marmie Ford.
The van “has issues,” Thexton said, adding it is used daily. The staff felt a pickup would be easier to load and unload than a van.
The request for a pickup was intended to replace the district’s plumbing van, but board member Kevin Mauler suggested it might be placed elsewhere in the fleet and one of the older vehicles can replace the van.
A future purchase moved forward when the board approved releasing bids for a new commercial-style dishwasher for the Food Service Office. It is expected to cost around $50,000.
The Central Kitchen’s washer was purchased around 1975 and is still used every day, administrators said.
Funds for the purchase will come from the Central Kitchen’s budget. It should be installed over spring break.
The curtains in the Great Bend High School Auditorium also need attention, Thexton said, showing a photo of a 3-foot tear in the main curtain. Back curtains are older and also need to be replaced. He said a theatrical supply company in Wichita would replace both and install them at the same time for around $17,500; when purchased separately it would cost $19,000. Thexton was advised to check with a local firm as well.
“We’re also looking at upgrading the lighting and sound in the auditorium,” Reed said.
Thexton said the district would like to buy a vision screener like the ones it borrows from Sunflower Diversified Services and the Great Bend Lions Club. The cost is about $7,500.
Last year the district purchased door security cameras for the elementary schools and middle school. People have to be buzzed in to enter. There is also one on the Alternative Learning Center entrance on the north side of Great Bend High School. The next issue is security at GBHS and the Panther Activity Center.
Dayton Security could install cameras on three doors by the end of the year for $8,500.
These door buzzers would be on a timer, so the doors could be unlocked at times when buzzing each person in wouldn’t be feasible.
“There’s a lot of traffic in and out of those doors,” Thexton said.
But board members noted that after-school activities will pose a problem, when there’s no one in the Central Office to buzz people in.
Reed said at those times the system may have to be shut off. “The timer can cut out 90 percent of the inconvenience,” he said.
The District Education Center also has two additional security cameras and a recorder, which cost $1,600.
Earlier this year, shots were fired into the building one night when no one was there. Board President Joyce Carter asked if security measures have reduced vandalism, but Thexton said vandalism has not been a big issue for the most part.
After these items, Reed introduced the plan for a new bus barn/maintenance building and remodeling the District Education Center.
“We have been putting money in capital outlay for three years,” he said. “We have raised that money to keep the district in good repair and updated.”