Triad School Board OKs Plan To Bid For Six Buses

By Charles Feldman, Reporter

The Triad School Board talked about replacing aging vehicles and learned some unexpected good news about the turf project when it met on Monday, October 30.

The board approved the release of a request for bids for the purchase of six gas-powered  buses by November 20. It might then vote on a purchase recommendation at its next meeting on November 25. This bid will secure three buses this year and secured pricing for three more buses for the beginning of the 2020-21 school year.

Two of the current buses in the district’s aging fleet are from 1998 and 1999, at least 20 years old.

“We had about $22,000 in tows last year,” said Director of Business and Communications Mike Raymond.

“We had one towed today,” added Lonnie Henke, operations director for the district.

Gas and diesel buses are about the same in fuel economy, but maintenance costs on gas buses will be lower than on the new diesel buses which have more parts to replace than they did 12 years ago, according to Raymond.

“It comes out as an annual savings per bus on a guaranteed basis of $2,400 per bus,” he said. “Guaranteed right off the bat that’s at the normal maintenance that we’ll save. Plus a bus costs six thousand dollars cheaper for gas versus diesel.”

Old buses will be used for trade-ins, he said.

The board also voted to release a bid request for one new one-ton service body truck for the district as well. This replaces a 2005 heavy duty vehicle. The old vehicle will be repurposed as an outdoors vehicle.

“The current bed on it is all rusted out. We’re going to put a flatbed on it,” he said.

In a surprise development, the board learned that the cost of the project to install turf for the ball field at Triad High School has gone down from the expected $1,211,908 to $1,182,498, according to Raymond. The cost was lowered due to a credit for keeping dirt on Triad property instead of hauling it off and to the ability to bring the same crew who just completed the fields at the new Plummer Family Park, he said.

“Instead of all the dirt from the baseball field and the football field being hauled away and just dumped, we kept it all onsite to fill in some of the low areas we have on the outside of the  field,” Raymond said.

The project is going smoothly and is on schedule, he said.

“It will be done by girls soccer season, which is in the springtime.”

And it will have bullpens outside of the dugouts.

The state of Illinois has announced plans to build a four-lane highway with turning lanes on U.S. Highway 40 from Formosa Road to Bethany – that is from American Fitness/R.P. Lumber to Triad High School. This will happen sometime between 2021-2025 as part of a $235 billion multi-year plan for new roads and bridges across the state.

The Triad School District is already thinking ahead to how it will handle the changes.

“It’ll definitely be something that, on the security side of things, we’ll have to re-evaluate our traffic flows,” Raymond said.

“When you bring four lanes into our high school entrance, it changes the dynamics of the lot,” he said. “Plus, we’ll have construction work and it’s not going to be a quick process.”

“I think it’s great that we are part of the construction plan,” superintendent Leigh Lewis said. “And it will help our community grow.”

Superintendent Hewitt was presented with a Master School Board Member Award from the Illinois Association of School Boards. The organization totals points for things like attending conferences and continuing education in the area of school board governance. The title is his to keep as long as he keeps up his point total. “It’s always nice to be recognized,” he said.

The Illinois State Board of Education released the district’s annual School Report Card on Wednesday, October 30, too late for press time. This year the information about how well the schools are meeting the needs of each student and academic indicators will appear alongside a list of the amount of money the district spends per student at each of the schools. This may be viewed at www.illinoisreportcard.com.

For Triad, the payoff is not more state funds but instead the satisfaction of a job well done.

“You would not get funds if you are exemplary or commendable,” Lewis explained. “If you get an underperforming rating or designation, then you get funds.”

Last year, the Triad schools were exemplary.

The Triad School Board meets on the lasts Monday of the month at 6:30 p.m. The public is welcome to attend.

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