Chinook School Board makes decision on school bus purchase


May 31, 2023

The Chinook School Board has been actively seeking new methods to better serve the districts in relation to getting students safely to and from the school. At the May regular schedule board meeting time was allocated to Consideration of Bus Routes and Individual Transportation Contracts for the 2023-24 School Year.

Superintendent Hofman’s recommendation is to “eliminate route 2, run routes 1 and 3, and have Individual Transportations Contracts (ITC) for the Zurich district. We will make arrangements to pick up the one family down south.” Chairman Billmayer asked for public comment. Trustee Elias read aloud an email from community member Miranda Skoyen. She is in opposition of individual transportation contracts and the cancelling of John Elliot’s bus contract. She would like to have more transparency from the board moving forward. Ms. Brummer was in support of the letter that was read aloud. She believes that education is more important than sports. We need to spend money to get our kids to school. Ms. Conrad stated that she pays her taxes and that her taxes are more than in-town members, we need to keep the buses because we are paying for it.

Following the reading of the letters a discussion on the matter was had. Trustee DePriest stated that the intention was never to cancel the bus routes. We wanted to know where the tax payers’ dollars were going. Trustee Alisch with regards to asking about individual transportation contracts, 'it had nothing to do about eliminating bus routes. It was for information.” Trustee Stroebe expressed his concerns. He didn’t feel comfortable spending so much money on a bus route that carries students that are not even legal to ride. He stated that the beauty of having our own buses, is that we don’t have to run a route for two years, but could pick it back up if numbers grew. Trustee Malsam is against eliminating the route because his kids are using it, but he would like to know more information. Mr. Hofman stated that we would do whatever is needed to get eligible riders to school. Trustee Crowley supports the motion if we are going out of our way to pick kids up. The motion carried unanimously.

Next the board addressed Consideration of Authorization of Superintendent to Purchase Route Buses: Superintendent Hofman stated that he would purchase 4 buses if we run 2 routes. 2 of the buses will be spares. He has been talking to a company in Missoula and they found him two buses to be spares. 2007 School bus for $10,000 and 90,000 miles. 2014 School bus with 60,000 miles with a Max Force Diesel Engine for $25,000. Trustee DePriest expressed his concerns about the 2014 bus and the engine. 2007 is a steal but he does not recommend the 2014.

Hofman is allowed to purchase 4 buses for total of $185,000. A motion to allow Mr. Hofman to purchase 4 buses with a total of $185,000 was made by Trustee Stroebe and seconded by Trustee DePriest. Chairman Billmayer asked for a discussion. Trustee DePriest elaborated more on the two spare buses. He states that the 2007 is a good deal and the 2014 is not good. Trustee Elias is not in favor of the buses, he believes it will be a big headache. Board agreed that we need to decide on this tonight. The motion carried 7-2. Trustee Liddle and Trustee Elias opposed.

The Board then addressed Consideration of Old Activity Bus (MCI) Bid Review, if any: Superintendent Hofman told the board that we have gotten a $7,000 bid from American Garage. This was the only bid received. Motion to accept the bid was made by Trustee Alisch and seconded by Trustee Kelley. Chairman Billmayer asked for public comment. No public comments. The motion carried unanimously. Trustee DePriest abstained from the vote.


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