Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

Local News

July 22, 2012

ECP buses and smooth rolling

Pauls Valley, Oklahoma — Keeping it smooth on the road is the idea behind a school bond election next month for voters in the Elmore City-Pernell district.

On the ballot for an Aug. 28 vote is a $250,000 bond issue stretched out over four years that if supported by at least 60 percent will go toward helping the ECP school district get some new buses.

For Donnie Darrow, about to enter his third year as the superintendent there, this issue is meant to address a big need — new school buses for ECP students.

“This is strictly for buses,” Darrow said.

“We're looking at route buses,” he said. “We do not have activity buses; that's not in this. We're talking strictly route buses.”

That means the big traditional 72-passenger school buses to be added to the school district's bus fleet for rural routes.

According to Darrow, the need is there as currently there are three buses in that fleet with more than 100,000 miles; described as the time to start looking at how to replace them. Three others are also there right now on a lease-purchase basis.

The best part of it all is ECP property owners won't have to worry about any new taxes if the issue is passed.

“I feel pretty good about it,” he said.

“The beauty here is there will be no increases in taxes. We've got some bond issues coming off and this will slide right in.”

The need to address the transportation needs isn't always an easy thing, especially when the budget remains tight and more funding isn't likely to be available, Darrow said.

“I'm kind of getting on my soapbox, but the real problem is with the state aid formula,” he said about state funding for schools.

“It doesn't really factor in transportation. We can't afford buses from our general fund. So we had to come up with some other source to buy these buses.”

The ECP school administrator says the end result is school districts looking to upgrade bus fleets are oftentimes forced to take bond issues like this one before voters.

If the issue does pass the funding would not be available until January.

Not a problem as Darrow said he's already been working with bus vendors to possibly get something going even earlier.

There are also a couple of options in the way the district goes about getting the buses.

“We don't have to buy new buses,” he said. “We can buy good used ones.

“Another possibility is we may not spend all that money up front for the three new buses. We might stagger that out.”

Also on the Aug. 28 ballot for some is a Republican runoff for the state Senate District 43 race between Corey Brooks and Peggy Davenport.

ECP voters are reminded there is an Aug. 3 deadline to apply for voter registration if they want to vote in this school election.

Registration forms are available at the county Election Board office, most tag agencies or at www.ok.gov/elections online.

Up next for the ECP district is elementary pre-enrollment set for the morning of Wednesday, Aug. 1 The first day of classes for the new year at ECP is Aug. 15.

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