Evanston/Skokie School District 65 has responded to parents with an explanation for switching from coach buses to school buses for the trip by fifth graders to Camp Timber-lee: they cost less and they’re safer for the kids.
Coach buses are those large highway behemoths with wide, comfortable seats and a rest room in the back.
When plans were made to transport students to the camp, located in East Troy, WI, about 90 minutes from Evanston, they selected the coach buses, which last year cost them somewhat less than $25,000 to rent.
But when they received the quote from the bus company, they found the cost had soared to $28,900.
That presented a problem, as the Illinois School Code requires any purchase of goods or services in excess of $25,000, with a few exceptions (none of which applied to this case), to be sent out for bid, which takes a few weeks to accomplish.
And very few coach companies have drivers qualified to drive school kids, which makes shopping for transportation even more difficult.
So the district looked into school bus transportation. While the buses are not as comfortable as the coaches, they also meet the higher qualifications for transporting kids, according to district administrators.
“School buses have seat belts, reinforced roofs and sides, stop arms, flashing lights, window releases, and passenger crash protection – known as compartmentalization,” they said in a letter to parents.
They also cost less. The total for the district would amount to about $10,000. And they are available when the district needs them, the end of March.