The wheels on Sampson County Schools’ activity buses are busy going round and round on a regular basis. Aware of all the traveling local students do and taking into consideration that a few buses are slightly past their replacement age, director of transportation Herb Sanderson stressed to the school board the need for four new activity buses during Tuesday’s work session.
“The oldest buses we have are 23 years old, and our newest ones are four 2004s,” reported Sanderson, mentioning that the replacement age for school and activity buses is usually around 20 year.
According to information provided by Sanderson, each of the school districts has one of the oldest buses — a 1990 Chevy bus. Overall, the average year of all the buses is 1994.
Sanderson made the board aware that, although there have been a few breakdowns, the current activity buses are safe.
Ever vigilant though, Sanderson still expressed his concern for students traveling on the activity buses, particularly when students are going significant distances to places such as Myrtle Beach, the Asheboro Zoo, and Fort Fisher.
“You can see a Sampson County Schools’ activity bus going everyday around here,” agreed superintendent Dr. Ethan Lenker, adding that the athletic teams travel a lot outside of Sampson to play in counties like Pender and Bladen.
“We need to keep those high school teams traveling safely,” said Lenker.
With everyone in agreement that new activity buses are indeed needed, Sanderson began explaining the school system’s options for purchasing the buses.
The activity buses, which are manufactured in North Carolina by Carolina Thomas of Greensboro, currently cost $89, 534 each. The board could choose to budget their funds accordingly in order to purchase one new activity bus per school year, said Sanderson.
“There is also a lease-to-own option and that way we could get the four buses up front,” continued Sanderson, noting that if the board decides to pursue the lease the annual payment over the next five years would be around $77, 088.
“The high schools would be getting the four new buses so that way each district would have one new bus,” Sanderson added of how distribution would be handled.
In the information Sanderson provided, the benefits of the lease were outlined and included advantages such as acquiring the new buses immediately, saving on fuel with the new buses, having little to no service costs with the new buses, needing less funds in the short term, and feeling better about the new buses’ the reliability versus that of the current used buses.
“I think it makes sense,” said board Mary Brown in favor of the leasing option as the board agreed to consider how to best address the need.
The board will consider the buses during their regular meeting Monday, 7 p.m., in the central office auditorium.
Lauren Williams can be reached at 910-592-8137, ext. 117 or via email at email@example.com.