Lisbon school’s capital project rejected because of bus facility’s cost, says superintendent

Published: Mar. 21, 2023 at 4:23 PM EDT|Updated: Mar. 22, 2023 at 3:56 PM EDT
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LISBON, New York (WWNY) - Lisbon Central School District voters said no to a $16 million capital project, part of which would have gotten the school ready for a state mandate requiring electric school buses.

A proposal for Lisbon Central to build its own indoor bus storage facility and maintenance shop didn’t get a super-majority plus-one vote last week and didn’t pass.

The would have also updated the school’s main building.

District Superintendent Patrick Farrand believes it was rejected because of the bus facility’s cost, a facility that would house the school’s current fleet of diesel buses, and any future purchases of electric buses.

“I believe our vote did not pass because of the significant increase to the taxpayer related to the project - storage portion of the project - and as it related to no aid,” he said.

When it comes to capital projects at schools, the state usually picks up most of the tab. But at Lisbon, parts of the bus facility project didn’t qualify for state aid, putting the cost onto taxpayers.

With the state mandating schools buy electric buses beginning in 2027, many schools may be looking at improvement projects like this, and Farrand believes the state needs to help with the cost.

“It’s really important that people understand that we need storage to be aided in order for us to prepare school districts throughout the state in preparing to maintain and take care of the investments with which we’re going to be investing in $400,000-plus electrified vehicles,” he said.

The district owns about 12 school buses, but those buses need to be regularly maintained at Heuvelton Central School, which is about 9 miles away.

Reggie Burr is a bus driver for Lisbon and says having to drop off buses at Heuvelton can be a hassle.

“There’s some days it’s really frustrating because I’m busy in the school and if we’re short-staffed in the school, that puts a hurt on them too,” said Burr.

Before it can decide what to do next, the district is required by the state to wait 90 days after a project vote fails.