MCDS is revved up for a new 1st-class activities bus

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— In 2001, the Moffat County School District bought a new activities bus, ensuring that the athletic teams and student activity groups rode to out-of-town events in style.

Now showing (and feeling) its age, the old rig will be retired and replaced with a flashy, customized new ride that will cost roughly $145,000.

“It has been a very, very long time since the teams had a new bus,” said MCSD Director of Transportation Jim Baptist. “I’ve been asking the school board to (buy a new activities bus) for years. I think even the fact that we’re thinking about a new bus is moving in the right direction.”

The board members got a chance to inspect the top three potential bus models during their work session Thursday so they could decide what, in precise detail, they would be voting to buy or forego.

After much deliberation the board chose a control-forward Blue Bird All-American with overhead storage racks, under-storage for large equipment and luggage, and a $1,000 custom paint job, yellow on the bottom and white on top, that will include as-yet undetermined lettering and the Bulldogs logo.

A long silence followed after board member J.B. Chapman moved to buy the bus. After a few more minutes of lively debate, the motion to purchase the new activities bus passed with one “nay” breaking the stream of affirmations.

“I just want it stated we’re going to dress this bus up as much as we possibly can just for the pride factor in the community,” said board president Sandra Johns. “We want this thing to grab attention.”

In addition to its aesthetic and practical elements, the bus will be retrofitted with 42 individual coach-style bucket seats, replacing the 71 flat, uncomfortable bench seats. Each pair of cushy coach-style seats rings in at $600, hopefully alleviating the dread of hours spent on a school bus.

“The coaches and alumni want to go back to the glory days of the parent generation,” said Moffat County Board of Education member Tony St. John during Thursday night’s Board of Education meeting. “People want to see these athletes go off in the nice bus and say ‘We’re doing the best we can for these kids,’ and feel confidant in that.”

The MCSD board earmarked $140,000 for the 2014 High School and Craig Middle School Athletic Budget to finance the project. Including all of the planned modifications, the final price tag for the eye-catching, comfort-generous new wheels is $145,258.

“This is something that people will notice, maybe even get nervous seeing it roll into an event,” Baptist said. “It’s a psychological thing – if they put that much effort into a bus, what do they put into their program?”

Andie Tessler can be reached at 970-875-1793 or atessler@craigdailypress.com.

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