School buses and what to do with them were first on the agenda at Thursday night’s Beatrice Public Schools Board of Education Committee of the Whole meeting.
Mid States School Bus, Inc., which provides bus service for Beatrice Public Schools is probably going to be out of a home soon and need to find a place where they can store, wash and maintain their vehicles.
The current bus barn is located in the Blue Valley Automation building in the Gage County Industrial Park on Industrial Row. The building was recently purchased by Exmark which means Mid States needs to find a new location. Superintendent Pat Nauroth came to the school board to see if they’d be interested in working with the company.
The district isn’t looking for more to do, Nauroth said. With the school year winding down, there’s still a lot on the district’s plate, but an opportunity presented itself, he said.
Nauroth said he’d spoken with Mid States about the possibility of putting a bus barn and maintenance shed somewhere on the property the district owns near the House of Orange at Beatrice High School.
Mid States general manager Dean Carroll said that they’re between 30 and 45 days away from Exmark’s final closing on the building. They could still back out of the agreement, Carroll said, but it seems unlikely.
The company struggled to find a location that would work for both space and cost when they moved in two years ago, Carroll said. Now, they’re in a hurry to either find or build a 5,000 square foot building in time.
“We're just willing to work with the board and the school any way possible to make it work out,” Carroll said. “Whether it's on school property, we own the building, the school owns the building and we lease it, we're willing to do anything.”
Nauroth asked the board if they’d be interested in pursuing what options might be available and how it might be structured, saying they could bring it back to the board for the May meeting, or if they felt like they already had enough on their plates.
Board member Jon Zimmerman asked if there might be a way to incorporate parking for the House of Orange into the new bus barn. It’s feasible, Nauroth said, but the additional expenses involved might not make it a viable option.
Board member Doris Martin said she liked the idea of having the bus barn on school property but asked if the district would have to construct the building.
“That's something that we'd have to talk about and visit about, but we're willing to do that,” Carroll said. “Right now we're in 15 school districts and we're probably half or more located on school property.”
Board member Lisa Pieper said the potential for building a bus barn on school property would allow the district to address the district’s current aging and deteriorating maintenance facility, which she said would make it a good opportunity to partner on something that would be beneficial to both the district and Mid States.
Nauroth said he’d go back and speak with Mid States and talk with the district’s attorney about what possible options might be. Nauroth said he’d try to get the information out to board members in advance of the May meeting.