School Transportation Changes for 2015-2016

Beginning the 2015-2016 school year, the Meridian School District will be operating its own bus fleet and transportation services.  This will be the first time that has happened since the inception of the school district in 1994.  The impetus for the change has been mainly driven by the potential positive cost savings and the district’s desire to have more control over its’ costs on major expenditures.

Spurred by a 20% increase in transportation service bids, the school district began a study on the costs of implementing its’ own fleet of buses.  The results of that study show that the district will be able to generate approximately $68,000 in additional revenue through local revenue and the state transportation reimbursement system, and reduce expenditures by roughly $52,000.  Thus closing a $120,000 gap in the overall school budget for the upcoming school year.  Supt. Dan Brue said, “The initial low bid for transportation services would have created a deficit in our transportation fund for the 2015-2016 school year of almost $195,000.  With the decision to begin our own transportation program, the district should be able to come very close to having a balanced transportation budget for the upcoming school year.  Of course, that is dependent on the State paying its’ payments in a timely manner.”

The school district is in the process of hiring the personnel needed.  It plans on hiring a transportation director, a mechanic, and 17 regular bus drivers.  Those jobs will be filled throughout May and June of 2015.  The district has already made plans to meet its transportation needs for buses by entering into a 3 year lease with Midwest Bus Sales for 16 2016 Thomas 71 Passenger School Buses and purchasing 3-4 used buses that the district will utilize as spare buses and field trip buses.  This is quite the upgrade from its current fleet of buses that First Student, Inc. uses to transport Meridian Students.  The current fleet has buses that are up to 12 years old and have well over 200,000 miles.  According to Supt. Brue the district did an exhaustive cost analysis on the best way the district could enter into the bussing business.  After looking at its’ options the board felt that leasing buses for the first three years was the most beneficial for the school district.

The school is working on plans to utilize the current facility that First Student uses for housing and maintaining its bus fleet for the upcoming school year.  Most routes will likely stay about the same as the current school year.  However, there may be some modifications to the routes and/or the pick-up and drop-off times.  It is the goal of the school district to have any changes made and communication to all parents and students by the middle of August, 2015.