Five new buses will start their first year at Derby Public Schools this fall.

Two are 77-passenger buses. Two will hold 66 passengers. A bus equipped with 36 passenger seats and space for four wheelchairs and a lift rounds out the new fleet.

The district is spending $500,857 on the buses, purchased from Kansas Truck Equipment, which participates in the Kansas School Bus Purchase Program sponsored by the Kansas Department of Education. The contract allows the district to purchase direct due to a competitive contract award process occurring at the state level through the Kansas Department of Transportation, the district said.

“I think the five will get us through this year,” said Joe Dessenberger, director of finance and operations for the district. “State law mandates that a school bus only be used for 25 years from the date of the manufacturing plate. That’s part of why we replace buses. This year we have three buses that are aging out.”

The school board approved buying two additional buses “to smooth the effect on the budget,” Dessenberger said. “We figured we would buy a couple more this year and then not have to buy seven or eight in a coming year. We have a bus replacement schedule, and we’re projected out for the next 15 years on school bus purchases. We have an older fleet by and large.”

Older buses are not as fuel-efficient, cause more pollution and require significantly more maintenance — much of it costly, Dessenberger said.

“The grand plan is to get to a point not where a bus gets to be 25 years old and sold for scrap or trade but [retire] them at 15 years old and try to get something out of them. We want to get to a point where we’re really only doing oil changes and tires.”

Randall Collins, the new transportation and supply supervisor for the district, is eager for the new buses.

“It is always great to get new equipment especially when it is replacing older equipment. It will mean reduced maintenance costs for the district, and these newer buses have lower emissions, which is always a good thing,” Collins said.

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