Budget, Transportation Propositions Featured On WBUC TV Program

OSWEGO, NY – Two brief programs providing an overview of the Oswego City School District proposed budget and the bus proposition have been produced by Oswego High School television station WBUC.

The programs will be broadcast over Channel 16 on Oswego Time Warner and will also be available on the district website www.oswego.org

Superintendent of Schools Bill Crist and District Clerk Bill Foley hoped to provide a brief overview of the budget.

Crist talked about the process, the ability to present a budget below last year’s amount, and the zero tax levy increase as well as other areas of interest.

In the second program they will provide a brief overview of the proposition to purchase buses to maintain the district fleet.

The budget program will air on Channel 16 on this Wednesday through Friday 3-6 p.m. while on Saturday and Sunday from noon -4 p.m. the transportation proposition will be discussed.

The two programs will also be broadcast back-to-back on Monday from 5-8 p.m. and Tuesday from noon- 5 p.m.

The transportation department was also the major focus of Wednesday night’s finance committee meeting.

The district has had to perform extensive maintenance on some of the buses in its fleet so they would pass DOT inspections.

Road salt and sand are the major culprits in rusting out many of the district’s older buses, noted Tom Gunn, the district’s director of transportation.

Using photos of one bus in particular, he showed members of the Finance Committee what Oswego’s winters can do to a bus over the years.

The 1995 bus showed severe wear and tear and considerable rusting.

It is one of the buses the district hopes to replace next year.

Voters will go to the polls next Tuesday to consider, among other things on the ballot, Proposition #2, which if approved, would enable the district to buy 10 new school buses at a cost of $948,000.

The district is looking to acquire eight 66-passenger buses ($107,000 apiece), one 34-passenger bus ($48,000) and one 34-passenger bus with a wheelchair lift ($54,000).

The district will receive state aid reimbursement ($663,600) on the purchases.

“The kids getting on and off the bus, the salt and the sand, really put a lot of wear and tear on the steps,” Gunn said. “Basically, they just rot out.”

Buses are inspected by the DOT once every six months.

Chairman John Dunsmoor suggested putting the buses on a more stringent washing cycle in an effort to keep the road salt from corroding; perhaps something like every five days, he said.

Every bus over five years old is being looked at for needed repair and evaluated, Gunn explained.

The fleet is put to the test every day – 166 daily routes, almost 3,000 miles traveled daily, 700,000 miles driven in 2010.

There are 581 inspections points the DOT looks at when it checks a bus. If it fails any, it means the vehicle could be taken off the road.

A dozen of the district’s buses are 13 years old or older and 23 have more than 100,000 miles right now.

The department is ahead on its schedule of inspections, Gunn pointed out. They have been doing around 20 a month, he added.

The district is continuing to look for ways to make the department more efficient. Among the options being explored are the possibility of consolidating some bus routes and whether leasing buses would be more economical overall.