Crunching the numbers of West Ada's school bus contract

MERIDIAN, Idaho (KBOI) -- In addition to the $15 million in savings over five years, the contract passed by West Ada School District (formerly called the Meridian School District) trustees this week restores bus service for kindergarten students, something spokesman Eric Exline says the district could not otherwise afford.

"We've seen a decrease in the number of kids coming to kindergarten," Exline told KBOI News. "We think about 100 to 150 more kids will be able to make it to school because of this."

But exactly how does the largest school district in Idaho save $15 million over five years by outsourcing school bus operations to a private California-based company?

In two basic ways, said Exline. First, the district will save a little over $4 million in operational costs.

"It's what it costs to run a 225 bus fleet 3 million miles a year," he said.

But the big bulk of savings comes from not having to buy new buses to replace old ones. The private company will do that.

The district was looking at buying 134 new buses over the next five years -- at a cost of some $11 million dollars.

"This is money that comes directly from local taxpayers that we're not going to have to spend to buy buses," said Exline. "It's covered in the contract. The contractor will make those purchases."

It adds up to $15 million over five years, Exline says: a deal too good for the district to refuse.

The contract must now be approved by the state board of education.