Streetsboro -- A faulty piece of equipment provided a hurdle for the school district's transportation department.
A catch basin, designed to collect storm water runoff, leaked water into the department's 6,000-gallon underground fuel tank this winter, but school leaders found a solution to the dilemma.
"Water and diesel fuel obviously don't mix," Superintendent Michael Daulbaugh said at the Feb. 13 Streetsboro Board of Education meeting. "The water was tainting the fuel, causing a lot of our bus issues. If you don't know it's in there, you pump it into your buses, and your buses don't start."
Twice this winter, water leaked from the catch basin, which is above the fuel tank, into the tank, Daulbaugh said.
"The catch basin was larger than it needed to be," he said.
Daulbaugh praised Transportation Supervisor Beth Kinder for solving the problem.
"She worked diligently over a two- to three-day period to get several companies to come in and diagnose the issue," he said. "We had a new catch basin put in. She saved us thousands of dollars throughout that process."
Kinder said the new catch basin, which cost about $2,600, was installed Jan. 31.
Kinder said she was able to fix the problem by "asking a lot of questions and making a lot of phone calls."
She said helping to find a solution was "a good feeling. We helped save the district a lot of money."
Daulbaugh said the story did not end there.
"We had several thousand gallons of fuel in that tank that was tainted," he said. "We were going to have to pay someone to take that fuel away. But Mrs. Kinder found a company that actually paid us $1 a gallon to take our fuel. So instead of having to pay $1,000 to $2,000 to have that fuel pumped out, this company paid us about $1,000 to take out the fuel. That helped recover some of the costs [of buying a new fuel tank]. So Mrs. Kinder and the mechanics went above and beyond to get this fixed."
Daulbaugh said the city's service department also helped out.
"Our fuel tank was down for several weeks throughout the repair process. Our only fueling option was to drive every bus to Twinsburg every time they had to be refilled, but the city of Streetsboro came through," he said. "The service department actually gave us a key card to the city gasoline pumps. We were able to drive our buses to where the city fills up. They permitted us to fill up our fleet at the city pumps, saving us time and money."
Even though the school district still paid for the gasoline, the service department "didn't have to do that. They allowed us to use their fuel," said Daulbaugh.
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