Friday, February 5, 2010

Clearwater Has A New Bus!

One week before Winter Break, our Blue Bird Mini Bird yellow school bus drove into the school parking lot in a cloud of smoke. Matt, our driver/staff member tried to drive it to the mechanic but gave up the attempt after a block or two because the smoke was so bad.

Matt driving our new bus

After our bus was towed to Earl's Garage, our great mechanics, they diagnosed the problem as cracked cylinders and recommended a brand new engine. In the 2-1/2 years we've owned and operated our 1991 yellow school bus, we've discovered just how problematic a high-mileage (over 270,000 miles), older bus can be. We considered replacing the engine, but it did not make sense to spend a lot of money to put a new engine into such an old vehicle.

For the past month and a half as we debated repairing our bus, we also scoured craigslist and dealers for available buses in our price range with adequate capacity. As of last week there were no good buses available and the families whose kids ride the bus daily continued to limp along arranging carpools to school as much as possible.

Then over the weekend, the clouds parted and the angels sang. Matt discovered a 2003 23-passenger shuttle bus for sale, in immaculate condition and well-maintained. The owner agreed to sell it to Clearwater for $10,500, instead of the $12,500 asking price, considering the $2,000 a nonprofit donation. Despite the large expense, School Meeting authorized the purchase, reasoning that having a bus is a major asset for the school and this bus's newer, high-quality body and engine will provide long-term reliability.

School Meeting has made a huge commitment to the bus as an investment for all Clearwater students. Clearwater has initiated a pledge drive to help us finance the bus purchase. Please consider a one-time or installment donation; contact us by email or telephone (425-489-2050).

Matt drove our new bus into the school parking lot for the first time yesterday to enthusiastic applause. The very first trip was to Mill Creek Sports Park for an ultimate frisbee game. The first trip for daily riders was from school to home yesterday evening.

As you can see from the photos, the bus is gorgeous inside and out. The windows are huge, the seats are comfortable for the driver and the passengers and the ride is smooth and quiet.

Here's a short video of the bus and the excitement surrounding it.

End of post.

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