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School bus plan could save #036;400,000

WINDSOR – It’s not often a director can save a school system nearly $400,000 without cutting essential services.

A recommendation from Bertie County Schools’ Director of Maintenance and Transportation Kenneth Perry achieved that goal here Monday night.

During the regular meeting of the Bertie County Board of Education, Perry made a recommendation to the board to combine bus routes for Bertie High School and Bertie Middle School.

“We made a comparison of routes as they are currently run as opposed to routes that would encompass children from both the high school and middle school,” Perry said.

He told the board the cost of diesel fuel has risen so much that the district has received special allocations from the state three times this year to cover fuel costs.

Perry said the two schools now being located across the street from each other led to his decision to compare the routes.

The plan to combine the routes could have several positive affects, according to his report.

Perry said only seven buses would be on routes that were more than one hour in length. He also said buses would travel almost entirely in one direction rather than having them double back as is now the case.

The biggest factor in favor, however, was the cost savings that would be experienced because of the change.

In 2007-08, a total of 21 high school buses and 20 middle school buses covered 3,217 miles per day and were on the road for 109.3 hours.

Under the new plan, approximately 36 to 38 buses would drive 2,207.24 miles (77.8 hours) per day.

The difference would save $485 per day in fuel and approximately $332 per day in salary, according to Perry’s report.

It also showed that at a rate of $1.6617 per mile to operate a yellow bus in Bertie County, the savings would be $1,677.92 per day, which translates to $302,025.60 per year in fuel savings.

In bus driver saleis, the system would experience roughly $62,370 per year in savings.

Those totals were not including the estimated $209 per day in fuel savings for the buses that will not be needed by combining the routes.

“The big picture is we will be able to get kids to school in better time and save money,” Perry said.

Board member Melinda Eure asked if the new routes would include the Ninth Grade Academy and the new Early College High School. Perry said they would possibly, but the added distance would be minimal.

“When I went to school, everyone in grades eight through 12 rode the same bus. This is nothing new,” Board Chairman Rickey Freeman said.

Board member Alton Parker said he believed the district should be as cost efficient as possible and felt the proposal was one way to achieve that goal.

“I do have some concerns about a sixth grader and a twelfth grader being on the same bus,” Eure said. “I do know that we need to save money.”

Parker said if problems arise, the board could address them at a later time. Then, turning to Perry, he said, “I commend you. That’s a heck of a savings.”