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New buses, calendar OK'd for Auburn schools

New buses, calendar OK'd for Auburn schools

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The Auburn City School board approved the 2021-22 academic school calendar and spending nearly $800,000 for new buses Tuesday night.

Although set a year ahead of time, the 2021-22 calendar will mimic the upcoming 2020-21 school year calendar. Daniel Chesser, public relations specialist for Auburn City Schools, said that they approve the calendars so far in advance to avoid any snags or being pressed for time.

The calendar was available for public comment the last 30 days online.

One comment brought before the board asked that it consider making the Thanksgiving break a week long rather than only three days.

This would not be feasible, Chesser said, due to the amount of days the school needs to meet.

The school day count is 180 days, he said. Ninety of these are before the Christmas break and 90 after. If a weeklong Thanksgiving break was instituted, it would cut into Christmas break or spring break. The three-day Thanksgiving break was kept in place after the vote Tuesday.

The first day of the 2020-21 calendar year will be Monday, Aug. 10, Chesser said, and the first day for 2021-22, will be Tuesday, Aug. 10.

“The calendar is, I think, of general interest to everybody in the public just because it pertains to so many different things,” Chesser said. “Everything from when kids start and stop school to when can I expect traffic to pick up?”

School BusesThe school board also approved upgrades to its bus fleet at Tuesday’s meeting.

Each year the Auburn City School system has to replace between eight to 10 buses from its fleet. The buses are on a 10-year cycle, Chesser said, and a few are replaced every year.

“It’s just us being fiscally responsible with our transportation department when it comes to maintenance and being up-to-date on all the state safety standards,” he said. “So no bus in our fleet will ever be older than 10 years.”

This year, however, was a little less routine. The school system took a bid for air-conditioned buses.

“We’re actually piloting a program to evaluate the efficiency of air-conditioned buses,” Chesser said.

Buses in a city like Auburn will make a lot of stops where the door will open and close and the windows can be opened and closed by children, so evaluation is necessary, he said.

“There’s been some talk around the state of how hot it gets in August and early September and buses not being equipped with air conditioning,” Chesser said. “So we’re trying to be conscious of public feedback, the public awareness of the desire to have air-conditioned buses.”

The purchase of up to nine, 78-passenger vehicles was awarded to Birmingham-based Bus Worx, which came in with a low bid of $799,000.

These air-conditioned buses cost around $7,500 more per bus than the previous types of buses, Chesser said.

The school board approved the purchase of a bus for special-needs passengers.

Southland International won the contract with the lowest bid of $94,200.

The school system has 12 of these buses currently in its fleet.

They are ADA-compliant, lower to the ground, hold less students and have a wheelchair lift, in addition to being air- conditioned.

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