PCS approves bus, band equipment purchases

The Pelham Board of Education approved the purchase of 19 new buses and new equipment for the Pelham High School Band at a meeting Feb. 23. (File)

The Pelham Board of Education approved the purchase of 19 new buses and new equipment for the Pelham High School Band at a meeting Feb. 23. (File)

By EMILY SPARACINO / Staff Writer

PELHAM – Pelham City Schools will add 19 school buses to its fleet in the coming months.

The Pelham Board of Education approved the purchase of 19 buses based on a bid awarded to Transportation South during a meeting Feb. 23.

Pelham City Schools Superintendent Dr. Scott Coefield said the total cost of the buses will be $1.39 million, and the cost per bus is $81,765.

“This is the beginning of us completely refurbishing our fleet,” Coefield said. “We got some really good bids. These are really nice buses with air conditioning and all the new safety features. We have a bus purchasing plan, so tonight is step one of really improving our bus fleet.”

The Pelham BOE also approved the purchase of new equipment for Pelham High School’s band for about $75,000.

PHS band director Justin Ward submitted a list of equipment needs to Coefield prior to the Feb. 23 meeting, where Ward spoke to the board about the band’s long-time need for new instruments.

“The impact of $75,000 in new equipment would be profound for our program,” Ward said. “Running a band program is incredibly expensive. There are many necessary pieces of equipment we have to have.”

Ward said $75,000 would provide the band with nearly 50 different instruments.

“While right now we have the correct number of equipment for this size program, much of our equipment dates back to the 1980s, and in some cases, the 1970s, which has more than outlived its shelf life,” he said. “We’re currently spending a lot of the money of our band fees in maintenance and upkeep.”

Board member Dr. Barbara Regan said she was surprised to learn how old many of the band’s current instruments are.

“I think we have a great band,” Regan said. “With $75,000 more, I know we’re going to have a fantastic band.”

Ward said students sometimes don’t have instruments in class because they are at the shop being repaired.

“We have a great need for equipment for bringing our inventory up to the level it really needs to be to run an effective band program and provide students with the best we possibly can,” Ward said.

Coefield also voiced his support of the equipment purchase.

“I think this is a great move,” Coefield said. “This is one benefit of having a city school system and really being able to help your program. I think a strong band program is just crucial.”

In other business Feb. 23, the board:

•Approved the 2015-2016 academic calendar.

•Approved a field trip for the Pelham High School Band to Orlando, Fla. from March 14-18.

•Approved a field trip for Pelham High School Baseball Athletics to IMG National Classic Tournament in Bradenton, Fla. from March 29-April 3.

•Approved a field trip for Valley Intermediate School fifth graders to Washington, D.C. from May 11-17.

•Recognized the following employees and students for recent accomplishments: Lead nurse Julie Stevenson for health room grant; RMS teacher Joe Kervin for assisting a student who was choking; the RMS band; Aaron Squires for placing first in photography category for the State Superintendent’s Visual Arts competition; the Pelham High School indoor track team for becoming state champions; Alex Ladewig for becoming the 6A indoor track pole vault state champion; and Mary Grace Strozier for becoming a three-time 6A indoor track individual champion in the 800, 1600 and 3200 meters.