The Exeter Township Board of Directors approved the district to proceed with going forward with bids for a bus barn.
The district provides their own bussing for students with the current bus facility, located on Shelbourne Road. The facility was purchased in the early 1970s, when the student census was only around 1,000. But with a growing population and increased numbers to the student body, parking has been expanded, and is now maxing out at capacity.
“We need to make a decision to move forward,” David Bender said, who was in favor of the proposals. The buildings are decades old, which makes them unsuitable for a simple type of restoration. The current site is also land locked, without room to expand further. The buildings are outdated and not up to code, as the vehicle maintenance facilities have not expanded to meet requirements.
Bender stated that the current bus garage has been experiencing deficiencies in the building for quite some time, and even the physical location presents many safety concerns.
“We’re flirting with disaster with the location on Shelbourne Road. It’s not an ideal location,” he said.
Director Joseph Staub said he avoids turning onto the road.
“I will not turn left out of that road with my car, let alone a bus... that is my biggest concern, that there is going to be an accident,” Staub said.
The board was considering a location on Lincoln Road, but was too far out of the district. The cost of fuel, and additional time to drivers would not be fiscally responsible.
“We are paid on a basis of student miles, if a bus is empty, we don’t get paid,” Bob Quinter, president of the board, said.
But not all directors were on board with the decision to accept proposals for the bus garage.
Patricia O’Brien-Pieja stated that since the district is in merger talks with Antietam School District, that the board should “hold off until some other things are finalized.”
“We might be overbuilding... or underbuilding the facility,” she said.
In the past, the board has voted against proposals for a bus barn to fuel educational needs. But budgetary restrictions may put the school district’s bus barn on hold, on again.
“The $3 million cost for this bus barn would almost exactly offset the proposed budget deficit,” Tim Timura said. Timura vocally voted against the motion saying that the board should “focus on students first, not necessarily the buses.”
“Building new on currently owned property seems worth investigating,” Quinter said. “Soliciting the architect’s input does not bind us to the proposals, this is to bring them in for discussion and explanation.”
Secretary Anne Guydish said the board can review all additional operations costs, in detail, at the next budget meeting. With the new bus barn, the district will see some additional operating costs
and would need to provide an additional mechanic.
The next school board workshop meeting will be held 7 p.m. April 8 at 200 Elm St., Reading.