Unit 5 School Board Works To Reduce and Improve Bus Routes | WGLT

Unit 5 School Board Works To Reduce and Improve Bus Routes

May 25, 2016

Schools such as Normal Community West High School will be affected by new buses and routes.
Credit Ralph Weisheit

The Unit 5 School Board has agreed to borrow 3.5 million dollars to buy school buses instead of rent them. Unit 5 Business Manager Marty Hickman says Unit 5 is currently running 154 buses. 61 of those are rented. 

Superintendent Mark Daniel said the interest on the bonds is less than the cost of continuing to rent buses. Hickman said the number of buses needed has decreased for next school year because of a new route structure. "We're still hopeful that we're gonna find other efficiencies, and maybe there's not 121 routes on a daily basis, maybe its 115. So the more efficiencies we can find the smaller fleet we can have, so next year at this time it could be the full 3 and a half million, but we're hoping it could be something smaller" said Hickman. The board's choice to borrow also increases  the working cash fund for the district. The debt is supported by property taxes. Many Districts are choosing to issue working cash fund bonds to increase financial flexibility and to preserve a property tax floor in case the legislature approves a property tax freeze. Next school year students will also have to scan an ID card to get on and off the bus. This will help Unit 5 better see use of routes and improve them in upcoming years. Hickman said he strives to make the routes as efficient as possible each year. " We're actually gonna be running about 121 buses on a daily basis, which means we're gonna need about 140 buses total in the fleet. Again that's for spares because maybe breakdowns, or just buses being out of service, and for maintenance during the day" said Hickman. The board also approved a kitchen remodel for Oakdale Elementary School. Construction will start this summer and finish before next school year.