By Jack Minor,
For the Greeley Gazette
The District 6 Greeley/Evans school board heard details regarding the age of the bus fleet and computer systems as they continued to review the budget. Wayne Eads, the district’s Chief Operations Officer explained that there was very little room for further cuts in the transportation budget without cutting actual service. Eads said many people do not realize the magnitude of the transportation operation. He said that currently the district has no reserve buses and the average age of a bus in the fleet is 14 years old compared to the state average of 8.5 years. The lack of reserve buses, often poses logistical hindrances to field trips and other activities. There have been instances where a bus takes students to an athletic event or field trip out of the area, drops the students off then returns to the district to run a route before returning to pick up the students. Often the lack of buses has meant less time at the destination. Concern was expressed about students missing out on the opportunities for field trips throughout the year. Board Member Brett Reese suggested looking into more local activities, and he mentioned as an example a World War I airport in Hudson or a local train museum. Eads said, one question he gives quite often from the public is from people who see a bus with one or two students on them who ask why they are not running full routes. He said, whenever he is asked this question he would like the bus number, the location and time of day of the observation. More often than not, he said it is probably at the beginning or end of a route. Another idea mentioned was the possibility of advertising on the buses to bring in additional revenue.
Another topic of discussion was the technology budget and the age of computer systems in many schools. The current plan calls for upgrading each school on a rotating basis. The intention was for a five-year replacement cycle, however they have not actually made it through a single cycle which means in many schools the computer systems are over 10 years old. Reese asked about the possibility of restoring some funding to the technology budget. Other members expressed concern about the cost in education to students by having older technology. Judy Kron said it concerned her they were able to cut $450,000 from technology, but only cut $165,000 from athletics.