Kirby seeks millage increase to improve bus fleet condition

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    KIRBY – “Don’t forget to vote next Tuesday,” said Kirby School Superintendent Jeff Alexander.

    Alexander was referring to the Sept. 15 statewide school board elections that, in Kirby School District’s case, will feature a referendum on a one mill tax increase.

    The tax increase will be dedicated solely to the purchase of new school buses.

    “It is strictly for the purchase of new school buses – and it can only be spent on school bus purchases,” Alexander told the attendees of the school’s annual report to the public held last Thursday night in the school’s cafeteria.

    Alexander added that either new or used (former leases) could be purchased, but that it was the board’s intention at this time to purchase new.

    At current value, 1 mill generates slightly more than $30,000 per year. New buses run in the vicinity of $80,000.

    “That will put us on a cycle to get a new bus every 2.5-3 years,” said Alexander. “It’s hard for us to come up with $80,000,” he said, noting that there were some monies in the state package for transportation, but most of that funded the fuel cost for the bus fleet every year.

    Alexander stated that those owning $50,000 of property, the cost would break down to 85¢ a month, should the millage pass. Those owning $500,000 in property, the cost will be just less than $8.50 per month.

    Ultimately, however, he most equated the issue to simple safety by keeping the fleet in newer condition.

    “It’s not rocket science … it won’t cost you a whole lot, and we’ll feel a lot safer with new buses transporting our kids. When we get a new bus, we not only use it on a route, but we also use it to travel to the majority of our extracurricular activities. So really this is about child safety, and that’s a great thing.”

    According to the superintendent, the district tried to purchase a new bus every 4-5 years, but “it would be great if we can bump that up and do it every 2 to 3, and with this [millage passage], we can, that’s what its earmarked for, so there’s no reason why we shouldn’t.”