D-428 School Board greenlights minibus proposal, district weighing purchase versus lease

January 16, 2019 GMT

DeKALB – DeKalb School District 428 will begin the process of obtaining three minibuses, after its board approved the request for proposal Tuesday night at the Education Center, 901 S. Fourth St.

District 428 Finance Director Cynthia Carpenter presented the board with the request for proposal, or RFP. The district will look into buying the buses or leasing them out, pending cost savings and other considerations. However, she said that the need to replace the three buses was imperative to continue successful student transportation.

“We are looking to trade two [minibuses] in and potentially purchase a third [one],” Carpenter said. “To be honest, it’s probably better to trade them in because selling those out on the street, I’m just not sure we could get them at the same value. They have a lot of miles on them, they’re getting to 100,000 each, and they get a lot of wear and tear.”

The minibuses are used for activities such as taking students to sporting events. According to the RFP draft, the district bought three 2010 Chevrolet Collins 14-passenger minibuses in May 2011. In June 2018, one of the buses was totaled in a wreck, leaving two in the fleet.

She said the district will weigh the options of buying new or used for the gas-powered vehicles.

Superintendent Jamie Craven said the repair costs to the minibuses include an engine replacement, a broken axle while one was in Wisconsin, and needing to be towed from the Chicago suburbs. Craven said the district will be researching repair costs to see if leasing the buses might be worth it over owning.

“In my previous district, we leased these buses because of the wear and tear,” Craven said.

The RFP passed unanimously.

Also regarding repairs, Tammy Carson, director of facility operations, detailed the six-day renovation overhaul that multiple schools underwent during the district’s winter break.

Several lighting projects were completed at Brooks and Malta elementary schools, and acoustic panels were installed in the Tyler Elementary School gymnasium.

“My [physical education] teacher is thrilled,” Tyler Principal Lissette Jacobson said. “The kids are in a better mood and they can hear his instructions. They’re all happy.”

Carson also shared a surprise announcement: Huntley Middle School’s auditorium is ready to reopen to groups for event hosting, and will hold an open house 3 to 6 p.m. Jan. 23, at 1515 S. Fourth St.