The Olentangy Local School District (OLSD) approved the purchase of 12 new Rush Trucking IC buses to be incorporated into the rotation during Thursday’s meeting of the Board of Education.
Included in the purchase will be 10 standard passenger buses and two buses equipped with lifts for handicap accessibility. The total of the purchase will cost the district $1,210,102, and the buses will be purchased using the bonds from the 2020 ballot issue approved by district residents.
Jeff Gordon, the director of business management and facilities for the district, said the buses are on a 15-year rotation in line with the recommended lifecycle of buses in Ohio. Gordon said the end of that lifecycle is typically when the cost to maintain the bus in order to pass safety inspections begins to exceed the value of the bus.
Also approved during the meeting was a task order for an agreement with CT Consultants for the design, bidding, and constructions services for the expansion of the parking lot at the district’s West Transportation Center. The cost of the agreement is $66,800 and will also be paid for using bonds from the 2020 issue.
Located just north of Olentangy Liberty High School, the West Transportation Center currently has a total of 213 parking spaces for buses, passenger vans, and standard vehicles. With the lot expansion, the new capacity will allow for an additional 33 standard vehicles, 31 buses, and four passenger vans to be parked at the center.
The project is scheduled to be completed this summer, but a finalized timeline will not be completed until the bidding process is finished. The district hopes to have the project out for bid by the end of February.
During the discussion of the bus purchases and planned lot expansion, Board of Education President Kevin O’Brien said the dedication of the bus drivers in the district needs to be recognized given the increasing number of districts whose school days are being impacted by driver shortages.
“I think we need to recognize the staff, the administration, the bus drivers,” O’Brien said. “At least one large district in central Ohio has hit significant disruption because of the lack of bus drivers, lack of substitutes. We’ve been able to manage our way through that, and I think it demonstrates the commitment of the drivers and the staff to get through this in a way that we minimize the disruption to the educational experience of our students.”
Superintendent Mark Raiff added, “It has been a herculean effort by our transportation department, (Transportation) Director Lori Carter-Evans and her team, and all the drivers. It’s hard enough to run a route at six in the morning, in adverse weather conditions, in the dark. Maybe it’s raining, maybe it’s snowing, and all of the sudden, you’re told you have another 20 kids you have to go pick up … They have done just an incredible job of holding it together. There have been many districts that have been going to late arrivals, early release. They haven’t had a normal day of school since December”