County schools to purchase school buses

Published 3:47 pm Thursday, January 5, 2023

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The Harlan County School Board approved the purchase of multiple new school buses using ARP (American Rescue Plan) ESSER funds during a meeting on Dec. 20.

Board Chairman Gary Farmer called on Superintendent Brent Roark to speak to the panel regarding purchasing 30 new school buses for the district.

Roark told the panel the district had requested to use ARP ESSER funds to purchase school buses.

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“They gave us the money almost two years ago,” Roark said.

Roark explained there had been some questions whether the money could be used to purchase school buses. He said when the money was first made available, there were few restrictions on how the funds could be used. However, as time went on, the restrictions became tighter.

“Now it’s all audited,” Roark said. “So, we’ve been very cautious.”

Roark said he had received written confirmation the funds may be used to purchase buses.

“I’m asking you for permission to change the ESSER plan to include 30 buses,” Roark said. “I promise you we have it in writing that we can do it.”

Roark advised the panel the 30 new buses will complete the replacement of the district’s fleet of approximately 90 school buses.

“Our entire running fleet will be less than six years old,” Roark said. “There may be a few that are older than that, but those will be spares.”

Roark pointed out that the longevity of new school buses will save the district money in the long run.

“You can choose for years to come not to include buses in your budget. This will give you that option,” Roark told the board. “All 30 will have air conditioning, which improves the air quality through filtration.”

The board approved a motion to purchase 30 air-conditioned school buses using ARP ESSER funds.

The panel additionally approved the purchase of a restroom facility for the James A. Cawood Elementary soccer complex.

“This is a mobile restroom facility,” Roark said. “It costs $94,000. It’s $1,500 to ship it in. It has up to an 80 percent buyback, which means after two years, they’ll buy it back if you want to sell it back to them.”

Roark explained the facility would be connected to the school’s sewer and electricity.

The board passed a motion to purchase the restroom facility with no objections.

In other activity, the board approved the purchase of a storage building for Wallins Elementary School.