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Potsdam Central School keeping two bus runs

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POTSDAM - A look at possibly consolidating bus runs in the Potsdam Central School District has revealed that doing so would cost the district more than $800,000 initially versus savings of roughly $30,000 in fuel costs.

According to a document prepared by Supervisor of Transportation David McMartin, the district would need to purchase six buses and hire six additional bus drivers.

“To calculate the amount of buses needed we consider our current ridership is 934 students, which is divided by 52 students per bus capacity, would create the need for 18 buses plus four spares,” he wrote, adding the district currently has 12 buses and four spares.

Given the cost of each bus is $107,826.07 the purchase of buses alone would total $646,956.42. The addition of six drivers at $41,964 each, including benefits, would cost an additional $251,784 totaling $898,740.42.

The savings would come from reduced fuel usage, but not total nearly enough to justify the move.

“Fuel costs would be reduced as there would be on bus run, but an additional six buses on the road for regular trips,” Mr. McMartin said, estimating those savings would equal roughly $30,000.

Superintendent Patrick H. Brady did say the salary numbers should have asterisks next to it, as it was calculated using the current salary figures, which would likely change as a result of reduced hours. That change though, Mr. Brady noted, would have to be negotiated with the CSEA.

“I would find based on the initial costs it would not be feasible for us to do a single bus run,” he said. “The initial startup costs would be very daunting.”

Mr. McMartin’s report also included information from three districts who have consolidated bus runs, indicating the move was a good one for them. The circumstances for those districts were different, Mr. Brady said, noting one of them received a lot of federal aid due to a high Native American population and another of the district’s had a population that mostly lived in close proximity to the school and the third district was consolidating from three bus runs down to two.

“Although it is highly aidable, the initial startup costs makes this cost prohibitive,” Mr. Brady said, adding that he understands the move does work for some districts.

“It may work for some districts as we found in our research, but each district has circumstances that may make it feasible for some, but not for others,” he said.

Mr. McMartin also requested a referendum to purchase two new full-sized buses.

“We’ll replace some older ones now,” he said. “We have a number in our fleet that are well over 100,000 (miles).”

The two buses slated for replacement entered 2012 with 149,721 miles and 152,676 miles. Without trade, the cost for the two buses would be roughly $215,000.

“Hopefully the dealership will be open next week, and we can find our what they’ll give us in trade to get the number back down where it should be,” Mr. McMartin said.

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