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April 01, 2004  |   Comments (0)   |   Post a comment

Bus bond falls 9 votes short


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MACOMB, Okla. — By a mere nine votes, voters failed to pass a school bond that would have financed the purchase of three buses to replace the oldest vehicles in Macomb Public Schools’ fleet.

In last November’s election, Macomb residents voted in favor of the bond, 91 to 75, which was nine votes short of the required 60 percent. The narrow loss has puzzled school officials.

“It’s hard to say [why the bond failed],” said Gregory Hinkle, principal of Macomb High School and the district’s transportation director. “I think a lot of the attitude of our patrons here is, ‘As long as the bus comes and picks up my kid, I don’t care what he’s riding in.’”

The $150,000 bond would have purchased three new buses at $50,000 each. The district continues to use three 1993 model buses for everyday routes. A fourth 1993 model is kept as a spare. Two other buses — one 1997 model and the other, 2000 — complete the district’s fleet of six.

The buses cover an area of 93 square miles and rack up between 50 and 60 miles a day. Although the coverage area is not large, having four 11-year-old buses driving in a rural setting is costly. “It’s costing more and more to keep the buses up and running,” Hinkle said. “We were going to upgrade our fleet, but we don’t have enough in our general fund. The older ones are the main source of maintenance and are costly.”

Hinkle said the district is also looking at ways to alleviate overcrowding on buses. If new, higher-capacity buses are not in the offing, he said the district might look at outsourcing transportation.

—JACLYN ROCO


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