If Dave Nelson wanted to spend less time driving a snow plow, he picked the wrong year to stop his contract with local companies that previously plowed the parking lots for the Dover Area School District.
Nelson, the facilities manager for the district, said the district has slowly acquired the appropriate equipment for snow removal and stopped outsourcing the work to save money.
"We can do it cheaper than we can outsource it," Nelson said. "That's the bottom line."
But with most York County schools cleaning up after at least eight snow days and numerous other delays since December, school officials say they're hoping for a calmer end to winter so they can stay within their snow removal budgets.
Tons of salt: Nelson said he didn't have the exact costs for the snow and ice maintenance this year, partially because he hasn't received many of the bills for salt from Dover Township.
But unlike previous years, when Nelson has needed between six and eight tons of salt for the parking lots, he said he's already used 40 tons — and that doesn't count the most recent snow and ice the maintenance crews cleared this week.
Nelson said even though most of his snow removal budget is "chewed up" this year, he still thinks the costs could fall into the $40,000 he normally budgets. But if not, Nelson said the buildings and grounds budget will be adjusted, and he might just do fewer projects in the spring.
Some school districts are still within their target budgets. The West York Area district budgets about $15,000 a year for snow removal. So far only about $8,200 has been used, said Superintendent Emilie Lonardi. Like Dover, Lonardi said West York handles most of the snow removal in-house, but does have a contract to clear the high school and middle school parking lots.
Maintenance costs: The York City district is still within its snow budget, though business manager Richard Snodgrass said he has spent more money this year on repairs because the equipment has been used more heavily. All told, Snodgrass estimates the cost to be less than $10,000.
Many schools, such as the Red Lion Area district, will need to use contingency funds if they go over their snow removal budgets. Red Lion builds about a half-percent — this year roughly $373,000 — into the budget for emergency costs, said Business Manager Terry Robinson.
For the past several years, Robinson said, the district hasn't used all of its winter maintenance budget. But the $66,710 designated this year wasn't enough. Robinson said the district has already spent $85,000 on the contracted services, not including costs from the storms this week.
Nelson at Dover said he has ordered his fifth shipment of salt for clearing sidewalks, and said he still has no idea what to expect for the rest of winter.
"Who do I surrender to?" he asked.
— Reach Nikelle Snader at firstname.lastname@example.org.