The Parsons USD 503 Board of Education is planning discussion and possible action Tuesday on construction of a bus barn. 

The matter was tabled in May 2019 due to lack of consensus on what type of building should be constructed.

The board learned in October 2018 it was going to have to provide its own bus transportation services, as Durham Transportation Services would not contract with the district any longer. This meant the district purchasing its own buses, which equated to an investment of taxpayer dollars of more than $1 million.

In March 2019, the board hired Design and Construction Services (DCS) to serve as construction manager for the bus barn construction

Superintendent Lori Ray suggested the bus barn be enclosed and large enough to provide a work bay and secure the eight buses to protect the investment, given some other districts reporting vandalism and gas being siphoned from buses. As well, a fully enclosed building would be respectful of neighborhood aesthetics she said.

A representative of DCS brought design options to the board multiple times, but each time he was confronted with disapproval by one or more board members, based on the estimated costs.

Board member Roger Duroni suggested a bare-bones structure, basically built like a carport with a roof and two ends but open front and back. Cost for that alone was between $190,000 and $232,000, leaving Duroni questioning if any building was needed at all, pointing to buses being parked outside at Altamont.

USD 506 buses are parked outside, but are kept secured by high, protective fencing topped with barbed wire enclosing the lot. In addition, USD 506 has a large enclosed metal building with several work bays, allowing for several buses to be undergoing maintenance or repairs at the same time.

Other board members fell somewhere in between Ray’s vision and Duroni’s, in their suggested design of the building. For example, board member David Ray said the board should be respectful of the neighborhood adjacent to the district office and build an enclosed structure that would protect the buses, though he suggested changes to decrease the cost by decreasing the size and changes to utility provisions. The cost for a basic enclosed structure was estimated at $325,000.

Buses were delivered in August 2019 and it was hoped a decision could have been reached and a structure built by then.

However, by May 2019, reaching no consensus on the matter, the USD 503 Board of Education voted in a special session to postpone any further discussion or action on construction and design of a bus barn until February 2020.

No reason was given, but it was suggested the date could have been chosen because newly elected board members would have taken their seats by then. The November election brought the same board members back to the table this year.

In other business, the board plans possible action on the unpaid meal balances and fees policy; an inclement weather make up day; facilities assessment; contracts for district managers and directors for the 2020-2021 school year, and action on personnel.

The board will meet at 6 p.m. Tuesday in the Parsons High School Vo-Tech Building, 3030 Morton.

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