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February 06, 2014  |   Comments (0)   |   Post a comment

Cooperative helps districts save money, time

Walla Walla (Wash.) School District won matching funds from the state to obtain funds for a facility to support a cooperative that serves three school district transportation departments, and it hasn’t cost taxpayers additional tax dollars. The Southeast Washington Transportation Cooperative provides vehicle maintenance at a fraction of the cost of local shops as well as a driver training program that saves districts staff and time.

by Nicole Schlosser - Also by this author


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Saving districts maintenance dollars, time
The matching funds that Walla Walla, as the host district, procured to support the cooperative have helped it keep service prices low; it only charges $45 an hour for labor, compared with the hourly rates for labor charges in a large vehicle repair shop in the area, which can range from $90 to $115. It keeps its parts upcharge to 15% plus the sales tax. Member districts are also saving at least 40% on parts, Olson says. For example, the cooperative can buy an air filter for $115, while that same part off the shelf would cost about $400.

  • In addition to paying a significantly lower shop rate, Prescott School District gets same-day service when taking buses in for repairs. As a result, membership in the cooperative has kept the district from having to employ a full-time mechanic.
    <p>In addition to paying a significantly lower shop rate, Prescott School District gets same-day service when taking buses in for repairs. As a result, membership in the cooperative has kept the district from having to employ a full-time mechanic.</p>


Brett Cox, superintendent, Prescott School District (SD), says that in addition to paying a significantly lower shop rate when taking buses in for repairs, the district gets same-day service. These benefits have kept the district from having to employ a full-time bus mechanic.  

Cox adds that Prescott SD, which serves two schools, takes advantage of services such as oil changes, brake work, and transmission and engine repairs for the six buses it runs on daily routes. Prescott’s membership lets it keep a smaller inventory of parts.

The cooperative also delivers significant eco-friendly benefits to districts, such as not having to worry about its waste stream. “I do not have to inventory a lot of consumables such as motor oil, and transmission fluid and antifreeze,” Cox says.  

The membership was convenient for Dixie SD, Superintendent Mark Wegner says, because it already had to take all of its buses to the city of Walla Walla for maintenance, for which it was spending up to $10,000 annually. Cutting that down to one-third of the cost made a significant difference.

“We did not have a certified mechanic working here, so that helped,” he explains. “Our fleet fit right into their rotation. Maintenance has improved.”

Another benefit is that the employees who run Dixie SD’s bus garage now have extra support. The cooperative has added seats in the buses, and even taken care of smaller tasks, such as providing fire extinguishers and changing windshield wipers.

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