LEWISTON — The School Department has purchased six 14-passenger school buses set to hit the road in May.

The used buses, 2004 and 2005 General Motors and Ford models, cost $25,000. Each has about 100,000 miles with plenty of life left, said Lewiston Regional Technical Center Director Rob Callahan, whose school will have primary use.

Lewiston doesn’t own standard size buses because it contracts student busing with Hudson Bus Lines.

Because they’re smaller than regular buses, they can be driven by teachers or anyone with a regular driver’s license. They’ll be used for field trips, internships, small team athletics and trade school learning.

In the 2015-16 budget older vans were scheduled to be replaced. Instead, the small buses were bought.

“It was too good of a deal to pass up,” Superintendent Bill Webster said.

The buses were checked over by the Technical Center master mechanic and deemed sound, Callahan said. They were bought from a company in New York that buys and sells school buses.

“We did talk them down,” Callahan said. “My assistant, Pete Gagnon, he can haggle. The seller agreed on the price saying, ‘as long as you can come get them.”

So last week, Callahan, Gagnon, automotive teacher Rusty Parker, welding teacher Bob Stewart, electrician instructor Greg Cushman, trades career teacher Tom Fylstra and special education teacher Mike Bourgoine drove to New York to get the buses.

The buses are being worked on by Parker’s automotive students, providing a good learning experience for students, Callahan said. He expects the buses to be ready for use in early May.

They will allow teachers to get their students out of the school building and into a real-world learning experience, Callahan said.

“We’ve seen a huge spike in the number of community-based learning and field-based learning requests from teachers,” he said.

The hard part was the lack of transportation, which often meant teachers weren’t able to take students out.

The six buses “will allow us to really expand our ability to say yes, which is great,” Callahan said.

Field trips will include speakers at Bates College as well as math, speech and computer club competitions at places like Thomas College.

Technical Center students will be able to work at local sites more easily, including work at the Pettengill School community park building a pergola.

“We’re thrilled about that,” Callahan said. “The challenge has been transportation.”

Another use will be with health care students. Students travel to Central Maine Medical Center, St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center, Clover Health Care and other facilities. Currently, they have to use their own transportation.

“That’s difficult for some students,” Callahan said.

The Technical Center has one small bus it bought about six years ago.

“It’s used every day,” Callahan said.


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