By Everett Brazil, III
The Newkirk Herald Journal
NEWKIRK — Newkirk Public Schools (NPS) relies on a variety of vehicles for student transportation, ranging from the large activity bus to smaller vans. Some of those vehicles are aging, prompting the school system to ask voters within the school district to vote in favor of a bond for vehicle upgrades.
An election will be held Feb. 11 concerning a $275,000 bond, which will be used on several vehicles, including a short utility bus for the special education program, as well as new sport utility vehicles to replace several vans for small group transportation.
The biggest issue in the bond measure is the purchase of a small handicapped-accessible bus for transporting disabled students and those in the special education program.
“We do serve several handicapped students in our school district, and the bus transports the kids to and from the school, and to Special Olympics and other activities they may go to,” said Superintendent Brady Barnes.
The bus has been used by NPS for about 12 years, having been purchased in 2008, but it is actually much older, as it is a 1995 model. It was already used when it was bought. Due to its age and mileage, there are many problems with the bus, including no defroster, an ineffective heating and air conditioning system and leaks when it rains.
The current bus can sit two wheelchairs and six to eight more students. The new bus will be a Thomas-manufactured vehicle and seat about the same number of students.
“The new bus will sit three wheelchairs, and have seats for a few more students, as well,” Barnes said.
The sport utility vehicles will replace several vans in small group transportation, such as student council, the academic team or driving cheerleaders to games. Like the school bus, the vans are aging, and the administration feels it is time for e newer vehicles.
“We have three vans right now, but we need more student transportation vehicles,” Barnes sadi. “We’re looking at three Suburbans, but we’ll keep one or two of our vans, because we need them.”
Barnes has pledged property taxes will not increase in the bond, and it will be partially funded through area wind farms.
“Every bond election we have, we tell our patrons our school sinking fund millage will not go above 29, and they will not do that with this bond, either,” he said. “It will not raise property taxes.
For more information, contact NPS, at (580) 362-2388 or the Kay County Election Board, at (580) 362-2130.