- Associated Press - Wednesday, May 27, 2015

LAFAYETTE, La. (AP) - As it looks for cost savings, the Lafayette School Board is considering whether it’s cheaper to buy school buses than to lease them.

The board voted Tuesday to analyze the costs and benefits as it tries to balance its budget ahead of the new school year, The Advocate reports (https://bit.ly/1PNco2S).

Board members also voted to raise school employees’ health insurance premiums by 9 percent and eliminate 14 to 15 physical education positions and nine physical education assistants next year. Nine English-as-a-second language teachers are expected to be added.

The board is trying to bring its 2015-16 general fund expenses in line with the expected revenue of $259 million.

Chief Financial Officer Billy Guidry says the district is considering buying 128 to 130 buses, a move he estimates could save about $22.6 million over 20 years.

Initially the district was thinking about purchasing 26 buses, but then started looking at the benefits of buying a whole fleet.

“If you do it for 26, why not do it for all of them?” Guidry said.

The board held off on voting on the issue because board member Justine Centanni said the members should study whether they should buy buses that run on natural gas.

The board voted 8-0 to increase the employees’ health insurance premiums. Guidry said the change is necessary to keep the district’s self-financed insurance fund stable.

The increase, depending on how much employees earn, would mean an additional $13 to $35 taken out of each paycheck.

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Information from: The Advocate, https://theadvocate.com

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