by SEAN BATURA
The San Marcos CISD Board of Trustees bought new school buses with the district’s reserve fund, which was recently found to have increased by about $2.6 million.
Trustees on Monday voted 5-0 to purchase five new buses for $481,425 from New Braunfels company Rush Bus Centers. Trustees David Castillo and Judy Allen did not cast votes because they were absent.
The district’s reserves will total about $28.5 million with the $2.6 million increase. Expectations of an increase were recently confirmed by the district’s latest annual financial audit, the results of which trustees may formally accept in January.
“We are very pleased that we’re going to, again, show an increase in our reserves, particularly heading into a difficult budget year like we’re facing,” said Mike Abild, San Marcos CISD assistant superintendent for business and support services.
The state comptroller released a study last year that indicated San Marcos CISD’s reserves dwarf those of 40 peer districts. Unlike some other districts under pressure from reduced state funding, there have been no layoffs at San Marcos CISD, in part due to its large fund balance.
According to information provided by staff to trustees on Monday, San Marcos CISD has not acquired buses for the past several years, though its policy is to purchase five new vehicles per year to maintain an optimal average fleet age. The district has 80 buses, not counting the five new buses. Abild said each bus has an estimated useful life of 15 years.
The cost of the five buses was not accounted for in the district’s 2012 budget, which began Oct. 1. Therefore, trustees voted to amend the budget to reflect the $481,425 expense.
“We kind of wanted to wait and see how the year ended-up and see if we would be able to preserve our fund balance enough where we’d still have some money for buses,” Abild said.
The new buses and associated costs are as follows:
- Four 2013 77-Passenger Blue Bird Vision buses with 220 HP Cummins diesel engines – $380,880 ($95,220 per bus)
- One 2013 53-Passenger Blue Bird Vision bus with 200 HP Cummins diesel engine & passenger lift for special needs students – $99,745
- Buy Board (electronic purchasing system used by local government entities) processing fee – $800
Abild said some buses to be replaced will be used as backup vehicles while others may be sold.
“In talking to Transportation, it’s possible that we may have a bus or two for sale, that we’re taking out of our fleet,” Abild said. “We take bids for them. After that many years they probably have well over 200,000 miles on them or more, but nevertheless there’s still quite a bit of interest for old, used school buses like that.”