Aging Bus Fleet Primary Reason for Outsourcing Transportation at Trenton Public Schools
The Trenton Public School district has 20 buses, and the average age of the buses is about 13 years old.
With bus repair costs piling up and even higher costs anticipated for the coming years, Trenton Board of Education members voted in favor of outsourcing district transportation Monday.
Bus repairs and maintenance costs are expected to grow exponentially in the coming years according to Vince Porreca, principal at Hedke Elementary School.
Porreca was one of three former superintendent interns who began researching and analyzing outsourcing district transportation in January and presented their findings to the school board.
The district has a fleet of 20 buses that are, on average, about 13 years old, and repairs have proved costly.
The original amount budgeted for bus repairs for the 2011-2012 school year was $32,123 and repair costs have since gone over the budgeted amount. However, at the time the budget was adopted the district only planned have special education transportation, according to Gail Farrell, district business manager.
The budget was amended in January for full transportation, but final repair and maintance costs are not yet available for the 2011-12 school year.
The cost to replace a bus ranges from about $70,000 to $90,000. The district does not have funds budgeted toward replacing buses.
Porecca, recently hired Superintendent Rod Wakeham and Arthurs Middle School Principal Stephanie O'Connor put together a request for proposal from three different transportation companies and selected Dean Transportation to take over district busing.
The values provided in the request for proposal are estimates and are not actual bids and are subject to change.
Porecca said a cost effective scenario is for the district to sell its fleet to Dean Transportation, therefore Dean becomes responsible for repairs and maintenance costs.
The estimated first year cost of outsourcing through Dean, including a fleet buyout, is about $668,000. The cost to keep transportation in-house is about $835,000.
The district stands to save about $167,000 in the first year. The district must sell all buses in order to maximize the annual savings. Without a fleet buyout the cost for the first year of outsourcing increases to $851,000, which is $16,000 greater than the cost to keep transportation within the district.
The estimated costs for the second and third years are expected to rise. Porreca said he anticipates Dean Transportation to implement their own cost saving standards to bring future costs down.
Trenton Public Schools will retain the option to buy back their fleet at a prorated amount.
Porreca said, in the end, outsourcing transportation is the most cost effective way to provide busing for all students.
"We feel it's and escalator," Porecca said. "It (the cost of bus repairs and maintanance) goes up one year and down the next, but each year you're going to hit increased costs."
He added historical data shows an increasing trend of mounting repair and maintenance costs to the district.
Farrell said the exact amount of money the district stands to save each year is not yet available because district officials have not yet negotiated a contract with Dean Transportation.
Last year, the 2011-13 budget was initially adopted without busing and Porecca said he hopes the district will no longer have to choose between providing transportation for all students and not.