ELIZABETHTOWN — Elizabethtown-Lewis Central School District residents will vote on purchasing two school buses in a Feb. 6 referendum.
Scheduled for noon to 8 p.m., the vote will take place in the school’s main lobby.
Two propositions will request permission to purchase a 22-passenger, handicap-accessible school bus, not to exceed $66,500, and a 35-passenger school bus, not to exceed $53,000.
The cost would be taken from the current fiscal year’s fund balance.
The State Education Department would reimburse 63.7 percent of the purchase, allocated annually over five years, beginning in the 2014-15 fiscal year.
Though ELCS enrollment has declined, the area covered by the district has not, ELCS Superintendent Scott Osborne said, and the district’s fleet of buses is aging.
“We cover a vast territory,” he said. “We experience particular challenges with fewer students, but our transportation costs are fixed.”
The district is very focused on preventive maintenance, Osborne said. Even so, Adirondack winters, coupled with salt corrosion and heavy use, take a toll.
“Two of our buses did not pass DOT inspection, and they will be put up for resale toward paying for the new ones,” the superintendent said.
“We would like to put bus number 73 out of service and use the other one as a spare,” he added.
Bus 73 has about 137,500 miles on the odometer, while Bus 70 has registered more than 119,000 miles. The average mileage on the nine buses in the fleet is more than 87,000 miles.
ELCS has cut two regular bus runs, basing its decision on the declining enrollment and actual student ridership, Osborne said in a press release.
This has resulted in longer trips for several pupils, he said.
The district has also beefed up preventive maintenance by maximizing use of computer software to track mileages and service points.
Each month, the School Board is provided with that information, which includes mileage readings, repair costs and overall vehicle conditions.