An agreement with Enterprise Fleet Management that could change how Great Bend USD 428 purchases vehicles was approved by the school board Monday evening. Assistant Superintendent John Popp said the agreement costs nothing and doesn’t commit the district to any purchases, but it does allow the district to see Enterprise’s proposals for lease-purchase agreements and other vehicle management options.
Superintendent Khris Thexton added that this is helpful because the district sometimes has a brief “window” when a vehicle becomes available. “And we still keep our local dealership involved,” he added.
Ken Olsen with Enterprise brought the proposal before the school board in January. At that time, Popp said it should be considered but represents a major change in the philosophy of fleet management. The district has a fleet of approximately 40 vehicles, all purchased directly, and the average age of each vehicle exceeds 10 years.
Olsen said the district could save money over a 10-year period by utilizing equity leasing, where the district would acquire equity in leasing new vehicles from Empire on a five-year cycle.
No action was taken in January but it was back on the agenda Monday and the administration recommended accepting the agreement with Enterprise “in order to get some real actual numbers about vehicles that we might potentially move forward with,” Popp said.
“We need to sign the agreement. We spend zero dollars on zero vehicles but the agreement allows us to start to design a plan,” he said. “We would be able to review each and every vehicle one by one to decide if we want to move forward.”
The district will be offered multiple options.
“We can basically pretty much purchase the vehicle completely outright and pay no lease for it,” Popp said. “We can do the whole lease-purchase and that allows us to move into getting more vehicles at a much-reduced cost to start off with.”
In the long term, leasing a vehicle costs more overall, Popp said. But with newer vehicles come fewer maintenance costs, which could potentially be to the district’s benefit. However, the main benefit of the proposal is the purchasing power Enterprise brings. "They have vehicles that we could potentially turn around and get in right now, to start moving forward to replace some of our aging fleet.”
He added, “These guys can really help us build a plan that will help us to schedule that long-range, how we’re going to update our vehicles and keep more safe, more up-to-date vehicles that cost us less money for management.”
Any purchases through Enterprise must still come before the board, he added.
School board member Chad Burroughs said he was in favor of the proposal now that he's had time to study it.
“I’ve tried to shoot holes in there and I can’t find where to put the hole,” he said. “It’s way more popular than we realize, anymore. Schools and municipalities are doing it.”
Grants and contributions
In other business Monday, the board approved the latest grants and contributions.
• Lincoln Elementary received $493.67 from Kroger Rewards.
• Riley Elementary received $255.06 from Kroger Rewards and $25.40 from Casey’s General Store Loyalty Program.
• Great Bend Middle School instructional coach Stacey Magnett received approval to apply for a $6,000 grant from the Department of Defense LEAPES (Learning, Exploring, and Application for Prospective Engineering Students) to cover 10 robotic kits, 10 drone kits and a stipend for a summer teacher.
• The Jim Cavanaugh Bike Fund donated $1,000 to the Perfect Attendance Bike Program.
Tweaking Perfect Attendance
Thexton shared additional information about the Perfect Attendance Bike Program. It was started more than a decade ago by community members as an incentive to encourage school attendance. Donations are used to buy dozens of bicycles to be given away at USD 428’s five elementary schools. At the end of the school year, students with perfect attendance and no tardies for the school year are entered into drawings for the bikes.
The administration would like to tweak the program to allow students who miss school due to illness to still be eligible for the bicycle drawings at the end of the school year, Thexton said.
“The concern was, as soon as you’re sick, you’re out of the running. We’re trying to get that to work. It keeps more kids involved,” he said.
“Perfect attendance numbers are down for this year, which doesn’t surprise me,” he continued. “We’ve been hit pretty hard with illness.”
As for the Perfect Attendance Bike Program, the district is currently receiving donations for 2023 through its Education Foundation. “Of course, Karen Shaner and Jane Isern are the big drivers behind that,” he said. “We appreciate what they do for our kids.”