by Susan Mikula Campbell
It was a small turnout for the Niagara-Wheatfield bus vote Tuesday, evening, but the district got a definite nod to purchase up to five new school buses at a cost not to exceed $500,000.
With only 683 residents voting, the final tally was 472 yes votes and only 211 no.
The district serves all of Town of Niagara, most of Wheatfield and parts of Cambria and Lewiston. Essentially, anyone who is a citizen more than 18 years old and who has lived in the district for more than 30 days can vote.
School board member Richard Sirianni was among school officials present for the announcement of the final numbers on Tuesday. Everyone was pleased with the outcome, as it will be "one less thing to worry about going into the budget," he said.
The purchase, which will not cause a tax increase, is definitely needed, not just for the safety of the youngsters, he said. "Because of high maintenance costs, we just can't continue running 12 and 13 year old buses."
The district plans to use surplus money to pay for the buses. The district currently owns 70 buses that carry more than 4,200 children and make 236 trips per day. More than a third of the fleet is more than 10 years old and repair costs are mounting with $100,000 spent so far this school year.