COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina has made its first purchase of new school buses since 2008, officials announced last week.
The state, which owns its school bus fleet, has received the first deliveries of the new buses, State Superintendent of Education Mick Zais said in a press conference on Thursday.
After all deliveries are completed, 342 new school buses, equipped to transport students with and without disabilities, will be in service in state-owned bus shops across South Carolina.
“Transporting students safely to and from school is a priority for the Department [of Education] and school districts,” Zais said. “These buses are more fuel efficient, less expensive to maintain, and are equipped to transport students with disabilities. Today marks the first step in modernizing the nation’s oldest school bus fleet.”
The new school buses will replace all buses from model years 1984, ’85, ’86 and ’87, as well as some ’88 models. Each bus cost $82,030, and the South Carolina Department of Education spent a total of $28,054,260 from lottery revenues, general fund carry-forward revenues and revenues from the sale of scrap metal from decommissioned school buses.
Zais has reportedly supported and requested funding for school bus procurement during his tenure as state superintendent of education. He also requested $34 million for school bus purchases in fiscal year 2013-14.
“Today is an example of how elected officials from different political parties can come together and work towards a solution,” Zais said. “South Carolina didn’t earn the distinction of operating the oldest bus fleet in the nation overnight, and this issue won’t be fixed overnight.
“State government has heard the concerns of students and parents about the age of the school bus fleet, and today is a tangible milestone as we work towards resolving this issue in the years ahead.”
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