Board of Education hosts special meeting


BUCKHANNON — The Upshur County Board of Education hosted a special virtual meeting on Friday, March 25.

Board members heard from Upshur County Schools employees Jodie Akers, Transportation Director, and Jeffrey Perkins, Treasurer and School Business Official, regarding a request to purchase additional school buses.

Akers reported that Upshur County Schools have now received a third DERA grant. Akers has been working in conjunction with Perkins, who was readily available to answer questions from board members as well.

“I wanted to go over our certified fleet information. That is what is used to calculate the allowance for bus replacement. The statutory percentage of that is 8.33%. “We currently have 20 buses in error and can now drop that number down to 19 buses that we currently are not receiving any state funding for. We are not receiving that funding because they have exceeded the twelve-year limit,” Akers said.

Akers explained that out of the 19 buses, 11 are considered spare buses and do not receive any funding or rebates on those. Furthermore, the state required them to have 15% of their fleet as spare buses, which is 6.75. So, seven buses are required to be those spare buses. Akers also advised board members that an additional bus will be added to the fleet to account for increased enrollment.

Akers then pointed out that the warranty and certain items on buses, who have a three-year warranty, are absorbing some of the costs for Upshur County. “The DERA grant is allowing us $20,000 per bus,” explained Akers. In previous years, there have been surplus sales on buses. However, with regulations on the DERA grant, that is not an option. “Now with these five new buses, we have several that are probably not going to pass inspection due to rust and that is simply from passing that 12-year mark with the buses,” said Akers.

Perkins then discussed some more of the financial aspects of the bus purchase. “If we purchase five buses, it totals $581,476 but then we will receive a $100,000 rebate because of the DERA grant so our cost would be $481,476 for those five buses,” said Perkins. “There is a caveat, which is that there are several items we include on a bus when we purchase it. But what we are able to do is purchase the stripped-down buses and then purchase the other items separately and we will receive additional funding from the state for those costs. So, the total cost of this budget is around $50,000 more total once those items are added on once we receive those buses.”

Perkins continued by stating, “The other consideration is that if we order these buses today or soon, we won’t receive them for between 18 and 24 months due to delays in manufacturing.”

Akers explained that they needed a definite answer by Saturday, April 9 to lock in the price because Thomas Buses are rising in cost. She also advised that the price received from scrapping buses, that can no longer be used, are generally $1,200 and that funding had been increased to $96,000, secondary to increased enrollment. Akers noted that the $50,000 additional costs that Perkins addressed would be reimbursed at approximately 90%. Akers also acknowledged that the five buses that are receiving the DERA grant are the only ones that qualified, in the fleet, for the grant.

Following a brief discussion among board members two motions were made and the motion carried. In addition to the approval of the purchase of additional buses, board members approved the consent agenda for the approval of Buckhannon-Upshur High School Band chaperones for the trip to Nashville from Thursday, March 31 to Sunday, April 3. The board members then went into executive session to discuss personnel matters.

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