The Pittsfield City Council’s vote Tuesday night to approve a $2.7 million school bus purchase plan revives a well-conceived proposal that benefits the city while avoiding past mistakes. Just as significantly, it heals a self-inflicted black eye.
The five-year bond fell a vote short of the necessary two-thirds majority needed for approval two weeks ago, but Ward 1 Councilor Lisa Tully switched her no vote to in favor Tuesday night. Ms. Tully deserves credit for doing the additional homework over the past two weeks that caused her to conclude that the proposal, developed by school officials and the Bianchi administration, was a financially sound one that merited her yes vote.
By biting the bullet and purchasing 43 new buses over the next five years, Pittsfield avoids the half-measure of staggered replacements that would only lead to increased repair and maintenance costs as the buses break down. The current aging fleet was purchased over 12 years, and the five-year bond means that there will presumably be far better trade-in options after the bond is paid.
Rejection of the proposal sent word out far and wide that penny-wise, pound-foolish arguments shortchanging the school system were holding sway in Pittsfield, which would cause damage well beyond the continued use of rattletrap buses. Tuesday’s vote, in contrast, sent out the message that Pittsfield is willing to invest in its schools -- and in itself.