Aging school bus fleet

raises concern for board

SABATTUS – School officials and selectmen talked buses Tuesday night.

New buses cost about $60,000, Superintendent Paul Malinski told selectmen at their meeting. But Sabattus Elementary School only gets a new bus every three years, he said, adding that the school, when it buys a new bus, pays the bill by stretching it over three years with approximately $20,000 payments.

“You end up getting a progressively older and older fleet,” Malinski said, adding that, ideally, the school would get a new bus every year.

The Sabattus fleet consists of nine buses and two spare buses, he said, adding that three in the fleet are 1986 models and that several have over 100,000 miles on them.

School officials have allotted money for one new bus in this year’s school budget, Malinski said. William Luce, chairman of the selectmen, asked Malinski why he has only been buying new buses every three years with such an aging bus fleet.

“Now it’s at the point that it’s going to come back and start haunting you,” he told Malinski. Malinski said he did not feel comfortable adding another $60,000 to this year’s already tight school budget.

“There are only so many dollars in the pot,” he said.

Luce asked if it would be cheaper to put the bus fleet out to contract. Malinski said it would be more expensive to do that. The buses get used year-round. That was not always the case, Road Commissioner Dennis Atwood said, alluding to the extra wear and tear on the buses these days.

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