On the ballot: 2024-25 Bus Purchase Proposition

New York State requires school districts to have enough buses to transport every student in the district in the event of an emergency, regardless of the number of students who walk, bike or are driven to school.

Bethlehem buses transport approximately 2,900 students to seven in-district schools, and more than 120 students to 13 parochial schools and other out-of-district programs. The buses travel approximately 21,476 miles a week.

New York State also requires the district to receive voter approval to borrow money for bus purchases. A bus proposition will appear on the May 21 ballot as a separate proposition from the school budget.

The 2024-25 bus purchase proposal would allow the district to purchase six vehicles, including three 70-passenger electric buses and three small gas-powered buses for student transportation, at a cost not to exceed $1,225,000. This amount is estimated to be the maximum cost of the six vehicles after receiving grants and before state aid. Approximately 66% of the borrowing cost for the purchase is covered by state aid, resulting in a final cost to the district of roughly $416,500 for the six vehicles.

The expenditure of funds on the three electric vehicles is contingent on voucher/grant funding, expected to total between $159,250 and $300,000 per EV bus depending upon the district’s success in securing federal and/or state funding. The proposed purchase of the EV buses continues the district’s commitment to reducing carbon emissions and would help the district meet the state’s EV bus mandate.

New York State is requiring school districts to have a fully electrified bus fleet by 2035. If grant funding is unavailable for the electric vehicles, the district would purchase only three gas-powered vehicles this year under this proposition.