The Hays USD 489 school board voted to purchase a new, coach-style activity bus originally budgeted for next year at Monday’s meeting.

The vote was 6-0 for the $259,950 bus. Board member Mandy Fox was absent.

The 45-foot bus can carry 52 passengers — 10 more than the current 5-year-old activity bus — and could be delivered in time for spring.

The board voted last month to purchase three route buses for $283,987, which went along with the district’s five-year transportation plan, but also voted to go ahead with purchasing the activity bus planned for fiscal 2021 starting next July.

The cost of the activity bus will be paid from the district’s capital outlay fund, which will then be replaced from the transportation budget after the start of the new fiscal year.

Both purchases are under the plan’s budget.

The board had a “bit of strange situation,” in the words of district transportation director Russ Henningsen, in that the company submitting the lowest bid withdrew just hours before the meeting because of a territorial conflict.

That left the board with two bids from National Bus Sales, based in Tulsa, Okla. The board ultimately chose the higher option, an Ultra Coachliner SE102 for $259,950, which has extra features, such as high-strength steel in the caging, motion control, higher R-value insulation, adjustable front and rear air-ride suspension, a better heat/air conditioning system and exterior flood lights.

National’s second bid, at $221,050, was for an Ecoach45 wide body.

Master’s Transportation, based in Belton, Mo., had also submitted a bid for an Ecoach45. The Master’s Transportation bid was pulled from consideration, however.

“Just a few hours before the meeting, we were made aware of a situation where Master’s Transportation would have to pull their bid due to some territorial disputes and having the ability to sell in this area,” superintendent Ron Wilson said.

The specifications on the bus had also changed slightly since Henningsen first looked into purchasing a coach bus last month. That increased the price but brings a benefit, he said.

“They call it a wide bus," he said. "They’ve increased the space inside the bus by about 6 inches, which, with the 19-inch seats, it creates more room in the aisle.

“This just came off production line Thursday or Friday of last week. From now on they’re going to continue to make just these wide-body buses.

“We looked at some of the features and for the price, I think we got the right bus for a good price."

National Bus will also add a graphics wrap with a school logo design, Henningsen said.

The cost of the wrap will be extra and will come from the transportation budget. Depending on detail, that could cost $2,000 to $8,000, he said.

“For under $10,000 we can dress it up pretty nice,” he said.

Henningsen said the bus should last 10 years, which is what he hopes to get out of route buses as well.