Wheatland Center School buys vans to save big money on special ed transportation

The Wheatland Center School Board has authorized the purchase of two minivans in order to save the district an estimated $68,000 in transportation costs for special education students.

The new Dodge Grand Caravans vehicles, each costing about $21,000 from low bidder Palmen Motors in Kenosha, will be used to transport special education students to and from the school and also to and from a program in Waterford.

The school having its own vans and hiring drivers will be considerably less expensive than the school continuing to outsource transportation, school officials said.

Currently the district pays Dousman Transportation about $12,900 per 20 days, or a month, of school for transporting the students, said district administrator Jason Tadlock. Under the new program, the district expects to pay about $5,293 per 20 days, including the cost of the vans, drivers and associated costs. Part of that savings comes from Wheatland transporting one student from another district to Waterford and sharing the cost of that route. The district is also contracting with one parent to transport their child, who uses a wheelchair, to school.

Dodge Grand Caravan

For the year, Tadlock estimates the cost savings will be $68,148.

The board authorized the new program unanimously at last week’s School Board meeting.

“Anytime you save us $70,000 a year I’ll approve that,” board member Kandi Horton said after the vote.

The vehicles will pick up the students at their doors, not bus stops, so they require no special equipment and the drivers do not need commercial driver licenses, Tadlock said. The vehicles can also be used by staff to attend off-site meetings or transport purchases during the school day, which will be less expensive than reimbursing individuals for use of their personal vehicles.

Plans are to label the vehicles with the school name.

Tadlock stressed he had no problem with the service the district was getting on special education transportation, other than he found a way to do it cheaper.

“The only reason we bought two vans was we saw significant savings,” Tadlock said.

School districts using such vehicles for specialized trips is not uncommon elsewhere, Tadlock said.


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