School District Orders Five New Busses

Ariel Van Cleave

     The Kenai Peninsula Borough School District has plans to purchase new school busses. The school board allocated $687,000 into the student transportation fund during its meeting earlier this month.

     KPBSD Assistant Superintendent Dave Jones said the district is buying five new vehicles for Nikiski, Seward, Homer, Kenai and Soldotna.

     These busses will not be used for what’s referred to as “home-to-school” transportation. The five vehicles will be used expressly for traveling to activities like basketball games or track events. He said the busses were needed because the current fleet is getting a little old. 

     “We were starting to have rust problems. We had discussions starting over a year ago on what we wanted to do as far as activities. Do we want to get back into activities and order new busses? Did we want to see what was out there as far as leasing,” Jones said. 

     He said it isn’t always a good idea for the district to rely on leasing or renting busses because of scheduling problems. There are a lot of kids doing a lot of things in the district. KPBSD worked with the Anchorage School District to put together a request for proposal for the new busses. 

     “These are busses that actually have compartments below the seating that equipment can be put in. So when we go down the road we’ll be able to transport students inside the bus. We won’t have to fill up the last five or six seats with shoulder pads and equipment,” he said. 

     School board member Bill Holt mentioned he was glad to hear about there being more space for equipment. It would mean a safer ride for students.

     “I got to thinking about that the other day after the incident with the ski teams. I’ve been on busses, and you know, you try not to do it, but you wind up putting skis… that are really dangerous inside of a bus. Those things just become instruments of shrapnel flying around,” Holt said. 

     Along those lines, Jones said the same rules and safety guidelines apply to activity and route busses. Each vehicle is given a once-over by the state inspector and drivers must have a CDL. Jones said the busses could be shared among the district, especially for teams going to the same event or for smaller schools. The district currently owns 31 activity busses that have various capacities and vary in age and condition as well.