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School board discusses plan for future bus barn

The Robinson, Illinois school superintendent says plans for building a new transportation and maintenance facility are in the works but others question if it's a good move.

Posted: Jul 16, 2018 10:54 PM

ROBINSON, Ill. (WTHI) - A Wabash Valley school board is answering questions from the public regarding a plan to build a bus barn.

The Robinson, Illinois school superintendent says plans for building a new transportation and maintenance facility are in the works but others question if it's a good move.

Superintendent Josh Quick explains the plan has been discussed for several months but the board has been preparing for several years.

"We, back in the late 90s, were donated a building by the Leaf Corporation which has since been bought out by Hershey. It was a building that met the immediate needs that we had there at that time as far as our transportation facility, a maintenance facility and a district office but it was also a building that came with a lot of maintenance needs at that time."

The administrative offices have since moved to another property on Allen Street but the rest remains on the donated property.

School district leaders say the property needs a lot of work like a $400,000 roof and it would be a better financial move to build something new than poor money into an aging facility.

A plan to build a new transportation and maintenance facility was discussed at the school board meeting Monday afternoon. At the meeting, some in the public raised questions about how the move would impact their wallets and if the plan is really necessary.

Superintendent Quick says the plan would benefit students and drivers.

"We want to have a facility that is actually on one of our school campuses and there are a couple different reasons for that. One is for efficiency and traffic flow. The other is actually a school safety reason."

Quick explains bus drivers could end their routes at the school instead of heading back on the roads. He also says having buses housed near a majority of students in the middle and high schools is helpful in an emergency situation where students may need to be evacuated.

The move would also help the district reach another goal of reducing its footprint by owning fewer properties.

Most people raising concerns cited the price tag but Quick insists this project will not impact taxes.

Quick says, "We have setback some money that we have dedicated toward the project so that we can do it without having to borrow any money or without having to extend additional taxes to do that. Right now we're looking at a range of probably about two million dollars."

He adds, this is just an estimate. The board is working with an architect to create preliminary plans.

The school board decided to table a vote to seek project bids until the next meeting. This is to give board members more time to look over information.

Quick says, if you have questions you should ask them.

"The school district does not make knee-jerk reaction decisions. This has been discussed over a number of years. It's been discussed publicly in meetings over the last, at least, six months."

The goal is to have the project complete by the end of 2019.

Quick explains around nine hundred kids are eligible for busing and there are twenty regular routes with up to thirty bus drivers.

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