Pasco School Board to buy more buses than previously planned

The Pasco School Board has decided to buy five more buses than it had planned to do at the school year's start.

The additional buses will cost $530,000, bringing the district's total expenses for new buses this year to almost $1 million.

The district's transportation group had to decide on its vehicle purchase plans in late summer. That allowed the expense to be included in the budget for the school board's approval before the beginning of the fiscal year Sept. 1.

Back then, the district planned to buy three new buses this year. It also put money for one more bus in reserve, for a purchasing budget of $450,000, said Howard Roberts, district director of fiscal services.

But once school got under way, staff realized more buses might have to be replaced, which would leave the district with too few buses to haul its ever-growing student body, said Leslee Caul, district spokeswoman. District enrollment has grown by about 5 percent each year for the last decade, she said.

So the transportation group asked for five more buses to be added to those in the original budget.

Money for the buses comes from the district's vehicle fund and does not affect operating money, Roberts said. That fund has enough reserves built up that even after increasing the bus cost from $450,000 to $980,000 there will be almost $325,000 remaining, district records show.

Two of the added vehicles will be special needs buses, and three will be for general needs, Caul said. She said the new spending plan will be reviewed by Educational Service District 123 and then forwarded to the state Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction for review.