How much does it cost to take a few dozen high-schoolers from Milford to Dover?


It’s not an easy question to answer — you have to rent a bus, pay a driver, buy gas, deal with equipment if you’re moving a sports team and pay an extra fee for the hours when the driver will be sitting the bus waiting for the return trip to start.


But even considering all of those costs, the Milford school board didn’t expect the answer they saw Monday night.


How much does it cost to take a few dozen high-schoolers from Milford to Dover?

It’s not an easy question to answer — you have to rent a bus, pay a driver, buy gas, deal with equipment if you’re moving a sports team and pay an extra fee for the hours when the driver will be sitting the bus waiting for the return trip to start.

But even considering all of those costs, the Milford school board didn’t the answer what they saw Monday night.

When the board reviewed the bids from different busing companies to handle the district’s field trips and athletics transportation for the year, anyone who looked closely at the numbers got a surprise. The cost of different trips seemed to have little relationship to one another, even if they were going to the same place.

“This is totally ridiculous,” board member Roland Cohee said.

The bids the district got include a range of $79 to $90 for a field trip to Cape Henlopen High School, but the price range jumps to $180 to $230 to take the junior varsity football team to the same high school. For the freshman football team, the cost is $170 to $200. All of those prices are from the same four companies.

Price quotes also varied widely for different trips to the same area. Cohee pointed out that it costs an estimated $89 to $100 for a trip to the Rehoboth Beach Boardwalk, but $175 to $185 for a trip to Grotto’s Pizza in Rehoboth — a restaurant located on that same boardwalk.

“I agree — it doesn’t make sense,” board member Deborah O’Neill said.

Heinz Retzlaff, district director of operations, said there isn’t much he can do about it for this year.

“If we ask them to send us another set of figures, we’ll get these numbers again,” he said.

School Board President Gary Wolfe said the only way to sort out the prices would be to sit down with representatives from each busing company and go through the bids, but added that that would have to be done in late spring. By the time August rolls around, field trips are already being planned and teams have their first away games within a matter of weeks, if not days. Voting the budget down could play havoc with those schedules.

“There’s not much we can do about it at this point, but it’s a topic of discussion for next time,” Wolfe said.

Wolfe, Marvin Schelhouse and Patrick Emory were the only ones who supported the budget in the first vote. O’Neill, Cohee and Paul Hayes voted against it. O’Neill, Cohee and Hayes reversed their votes in a second poll, after Wolfe promised to schedule a full meeting with the busing companies.


In other business ...

• Don Zook and Richard Bailey, representing Richard Y. Johnson & Son Construction, said work on the Central Academy is moving on schedule. District Director of Finance Mark Dufendach, said the district still has most of the contingency money that was in the budget for emergency costs and change orders, and might end up with a surplus if the costs continue to come in low.

Those extra funds could be used to improve the high school grounds or the academy itself. They cannot be transferred to other construction projects.

•The board approved rental fees for school property for the 2009-2010 school year. The only change for the year is the fees to rent the new turf fields at the high school. Renting the field without using the lights will cost $300 up to three hours and $100 an hour beyond that, while using the lights raises the cost to $450 for the first three hours and $150 an hour afterward.