The Herald Bulletin

Afternoon Update

Local Education

February 14, 2014

School snow removal costs mounting as harsh winter continues

ANDERSON, Ind. — Just as Madison County cities and towns have struggled with extraordinary snow removal costs this winter, so have area schools.

Most districts have maintenance staff undertake the plowing, salting and shoveling necessary to make school parking lots and sidewalks passable and safe, but overtime costs and an unexpected need to buy extra salt to melt snow have added up.

Anderson Community Schools, Madison County's largest school system, has spent about $30,000 on snow removal so far this year, said Roger Shockley, director of Facilities, Health, Safety and Capital Projects.

Most of that money has been used for employee overtime, but the district also spent an additional $4,700 on road-grade ice melt for parking lots, and $5,700 for extra salt to melt icy sidewalks and entrances. And twice so far, the district has hired a subcontractor with a front loader to open additional parking spaces.

"We have seven snow plows that are part of our fleet and our own employees drive those," Shockley said. "But I've been here 13 years. This is only the second time we've used subcontractors."

Shockley said the district doesn't budget for snow plowing, per se, because employees do the work. But "we doubled the amount of road-grade salt we used from last year and it was significantly more than what we planned on, no question about it."

Alexandria Community Schools has also spent more than anticipated on snow removal, including $4,400 in employee overtime, and $6,300 on salt and hiring private contractors to help move accumulated snow because the district was running out of places to put it, said Cheryl Harvey, business manager/treasurer.

"We have five guys that do the plowing and they also check county routes that the buses use to open up bus turnarounds, and each guy probably has got about 20 hours of overtime in," said Jill Cole, transportation coordinator for Elwood Community Schools. "They've put in a lot of hours to get the parking lots clear."

So far this winter Elwood hasn't had to buy extra salt, she said, because the school district stocked up last year and has enough to get through the remainder of this season, she said.

Like Stu Hirsch on Facebook and follow him @stuhirsch on Twitter, or call 640-4861.

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