DeKalb School District 428 Board approves minibuses, summer building projects

March 6, 2019

DeKALB – The DeKalb School District 428 Board spent a lot of money Tuesday, as it approved a contract with Midwest Transit Equipment to lease three 2018 Chevrolet StarCraft minibuses for four years for $90,600, along with a number of construction projects.

The decision was made to lease to return rather than lease to own the buses, based on previous experience owning them and paying out-of-pocket expenses to maintain them past their prime, District 428 Finance Director Cindy Carpenter said.

“We’re looking at a four-year lease, and then after, to return the buses to [Midwest Transit] so we can keep that fleet refreshed,” Carpenter said during the board’s meeting Tuesday.

The district will pay an annual leasing fee of $22,600 a bus, according to agenda documents.

Carpenter said the 2018 StarCraft vehicles from Midwest Transit were a better deal.

“They’re a little bit larger, there’s some more headroom, some luggage racks,” she said. “So it makes it a little easier to take the kids around.”

Board member Jeff Hallgren wondered about the mileage for the buses under a lease.

“It’s been my experience that where they kill you in leases is the allocation of miles,” Hallgren said.

Carpenter said the lease includes an allocation of 15,000 miles a year per bus. The district’s two remaining minibuses – which primarily are used to transport sports team and will be traded in to Midwest Transit as part of the deal – see an annual mileage range of 11,000 miles, Carpenter said.

Like a standard car lease, the district would be responsible for the maintenance of the buses, which also carry a three-year warranty.

The board also voted to approve a number of bids for construction improvement projects, which will be completed over the summer. The projects will be funded through the district’s operations and maintenance budget.

Projects include replacing classroom and office flooring at Lincoln and Jefferson elementary schools. Flooring will be replaced by Carpetland Inc. in Rockford for $132,500.

The gymnasium floor at Founders Elementary also will be replaced through Plainfield-based Spec Athletic Inc. for $85,600.

Additionally, the roof at Lincoln Elementary will be replaced by Rockton-based HC Anderson for $440,000 and at Littlejohn Elementary by Rockford-based Distinctive Roofing for $309,000.

Pavement repairs across district property will be done by DeKalb-based Elliott & Wood for $160,000.

The tennis courts at DeKalb High School also will be resurfaced by Michigan City, Indiana-based American Seal Coating for $67,000.

Finally, Huntley Middle School will be cooling down, with a plan for Freeport-based Mechanical Inc. to install air conditioning in nine classrooms, the auditorium, media center and second-floor offices for $1.2 million.