For most school districts in Washington state, new school buses come from either voter-approved transportation levies or through the state paying the school district the depreciation value of the bus over its projected lifetime.
The Puyallup School District, however, is working to reduce costs by purchasing more efficient buses and eliminating buses that are fully depreciated —without asking taxpayers for money.
Since starting the fleet sustainability project, only 89 of the 188 buses owned by the district were on the state’s depreciation schedule. The goal of the project is to generate enough in bus depreciation revenue to make the bus fleet replacement self-sustainable.
“After we receive the 12 buses being purchased this year, we will have 140 buses on the depreciation schedule, generating over $1 million a year in depreciation revenue,” said Corine Pennington, the district’s chief financial officer.
Since 2014, the district has purchased 64 buses, with seven of those partially funded with grant money received from the Department of Ecology and the Environmental Protection Agency. The remaining buses were purchased as one-time investments from the district’s general fund.
“New buses speak to our community members that we are using safe and environmentally-friendly transportation,” said transportation director Cathy McDaniel.
With the purchase of new buses, Pennington says the new buses will mean 30 percent greater fuel efficiency and a 90-percent reduction in fuel emissions, in addition to reduced maintenance costs and increase in bus safety in reliability.
“Fiscal responsibility is critically important to our district,” Pennington said. “We have been able to plan this fleet sustainability project with existing funds without a transportation levy.”
A total of 49 buses have been surplussed since the project started in 2014. Some of the buses were more than 25 years old — well past the state’s established depreciation period.
“The transportation department, staff, and drivers are very excited and very appreciative to Superintendent Dr. Tim Yeomans and Chief Financial Officer Pennington for investing in our fleet,” McDaniel said. “It’s an investment we’ve looked forward to.”