Funds raised by the John Bennett Indoor Athletic Complex will be put toward purchasing new buses for Toms River schools.
About $1.2 million is in the district's enterprise fund, money raised through the operation of the "Bennett Bubble" at Intermediate East. Six mini buses will be purchased from that fund at a total cost of $394,000, according to the district.
"I think one of the great things about these enterprise funds is when you can purchase something that's directly relevant to the running of this school district," said schools Business Administrator William Doering at a district budget and finance committee meeting this week. "People see the connection between having these funds and using them for something that you'd otherwise be paying as a taxpayer."
The buses will be purchased through the Middlesex County educational cooperative, a statewide system that Doering said offered the best pricing at about $65,000 each.
Utilizing enterprise funds is "basically tax relief," said school board member Mike Jedziniak. "It's avoiding cost."
"The bottom line is the taxpayer is benefiting from the enterprise fund," said school board member Joseph Torrone.
"We think it's not only an appropriate use of those retained earnings but also an efficient use," Doering said.
The buses are part of an ongoing replacement program designed to ensure that the district isn't faced with a large-scale bus replacement all at once.
"I want to make clear that this just isn't coming out of nowhere," Doering said. "We have to continue to cycle our buses or we're going to get to a point where we need to replace them in one year and that's going to devastate us."
Enterprise funds were used two years ago, when $500,000 was put toward bus purchases, according to the district. The district also has another $800,000 in enterprise funds raised from the Pine Belt Arena at the High School North campus.
The district currently uses private contractors for some of its routes requiring mini buses. Another "huge benefit" to the purchase is that those routes can potentially be operated in-house.
"Once we have the appropriate replacements, we're going to be in better shape to take on more of these types of routes," Doering said.
The district also discussed preparations to enter into a $121,000 contract for the purchase of Konica copiers for seven buildings — six schools and the central office. That purchase was included in the district's budget and is unrelated to the enterprise funds.