By Ashley Rader
Sometimes, you have to spend money to save money.
That was the lesson plan Wednesday afternoon when Carter County Board of Education members received an update on follow-up costs linked to the closing of Range Elementary School.
Board members also heard about the status of an appeal to keep an adult education program headquartered in Carter County during a budget workshop.
The followup costs included the purchase of two buses and moving two modular classrooms from Range.
Carter County Finance Director Ingrid Deloach told the board two new buses to transport Range students to Central Elementary School would cost about $52,000 each, for a total of about $105,000.
The need for the lighter, 29-passenger buses came up after the school system found out the larger 66-passenger buses did not meet the weight distribution requirements for the Smalling Bridge, which the students will have to cross. The system had previously ordered two new 66-passenger buses before learning about the restrictions.
Director of Schools Kevin Ward said while the bus order change would come with extra costs for this school year, it would save the school system from having to order as many buses next year.
“Remember we are saving $500,000 every year by closing Range,” Ward said. “We will have to spend a one-time cost of $105,000 for the buses.”
School board member Kelly Crain asked if the bridge could be re-evaluated by the state to make changes to the weight restrictions. He said the larger buses met the overall weight requirements, but failed the weight distribution rules for single-axle vehicles.
Ward said it was very unlikely the state would change the standards for liability reasons. He said the numbers were conservative, but if there were to be an accident on the bridge after the standards were changed, the state could be open to a lawsuit.