School board considers upgrading bus garage

Tuesday, Dec. 19, 2017 6:39 PM
The bus barn for Dolores schools is outdated, and the only maintenance bay barely has room for one bus. School officials are deciding whether to build a new one or remodel the current facility, which is out of compliance with Colorado Department of Education standards because it is too small.

Dolores Schools is considering whether to remodel the bus garage or build a new facility.

The current facility, located just west of Dolores, is outdated and does not meet state standards for conducting bus inspections, said school Superintendent Scott Cooper.

The one bus bay is too small to allow inspectors to walk around the bus, he said, and the building has poor ventilation and heating, and the roof leaks.

Because the facility does not meet Colorado Department of Education standards for annual inspections, Dolores Schools have had to take buses to the Re-1 School District bus garage in Cortez and pay them to inspect the vehicles.

“That is becoming more difficult because Re-1 is so busy with their buses, they don’t have time to inspect ours,” Cooper said.

Transportation Director Larry Funk said they have a certified mechanic on staff, but the building is out of code.

“Our bay barely fits one bus. We keep the buses maintained and safe, but the limited space we have is a challenge,” he said,

The lowest bid for a new 4,800 square-foot facility came in at $664,000 from Weminuche Construction, of the Ute Mountain Ute tribe. The price included a 10 percent contingency, and 83 percent of the work would be generated locally.

It would include an office, three large bays, including one with a mechanic’s trench, and one with bus washing equipment.

Cooper said the school is in a good place financially to afford a new facility, and can pay for it out of reserve funds. The reserve account is at $3.5 million, and based on next year’s improved state funding expectations, the school would be able to make up the construction costs within a year, he said.

But after a tour of the bus yard, board member Casey McClellan suggested the board consider remodeling the current bus garage facility so it meets state bus inspection standards and to make other improvements.

“It could save us money that could be used elsewhere,” he said, estimating the remodel cost around $200,000.

The school board agreed the idea is worth considering and officials will be discussion the option this week, including whether to put it back out to bid for a remodel.

Dolores Schools has ten working buses, Cooper said, and they are in good shape, with four new ones purchased within the last seven years.