FCS Board takes ride on new propane buses

The Franklin County School’s Board of Education became among the first to ride on one of the district’s new propane tank buses during its working meeting on Monday, May 20, 2019. (Photo by McKenna Horsley)

Franklin County Schools will be replacing four buses, three of which are to be propane-powered. 

The school board Monday night unanimously approved a motion to purchase the buses. The fourth bus will use diesel fuel.

The district will pay about $335,000 for all of the buses. One of the propane buses will be partly financed through a Kentucky Interlocal School Transportation Association grant worth almost $102,000. 

The district bought three propane buses to add to its fleet last school year after unanimous board approval at the time. Propane buses are quieter, making it easier for bus drivers to hear emergency vehicles, and they put out less carbon monoxide and use less oil than their diesel counterparts, officials say. Each bus seats about 72 people.

“So far, one of our buses, we’ve run 5,000 miles on it and it has already paid us back right at $1,000,” said FCS Transportation Director Brad McKinney. The district pays about $1.39 for a gallon of propane, and that price is locked in for the year, he said. 

The diesel bus holds 78 passengers and has a pass-through luggage carrier, which will be useful for marching bands or athletic teams transporting their gear to an event. 

McKinney said he will file the order for the buses by Nov. 15 and they should arrive in April. Once the district gets the buses, drivers will begin to work with them and the buses will see a few test runs before the 2020-21 school year. McKinney told the board that the four buses being replaced have been in use since 2005. 

He said that one of the current propane buses replaced an older model that ran about 20,000 miles throughout the last school year. 

The board also approved a motion to pay $68,650 to Ross Tarrant Architects for work on the Western Hills High School fieldhouse. Additionally, the board approved about $6,675 for insulation for the building, though this amount was donated by the family of the late Ricky Lane Harris III, a Bondurant Middle School football player whom the fieldhouse will be named after. His family originally donated $75,000 for the building a couple of years ago in his memory. The building will also put WHHS in Title IX compliance. At a July board meeting, board member BeLinda Henson said the project was going to initially cost the district nothing. 

“I’m happy that this project is getting done. It’s just sad that we have to pay out of our stuff to the architect, being the schools system,” said board member Larry Perkins. “It’s just sad that a private individual, you know, it cost them. It’s sad for the taxpayers that have to pay for this. I know the building needs to be installed.”

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