Arlington (Wash.) Public Schools leaders are looking for support for a two-year levy on the Nov. 4 general election ballot expected to generate $1.5 million each year to replace old school buses. Nearly half the district’s fleet is at least 13 years old and fully depreciated.
Medina (Ohio) City School District officials parked one of the district’s buses outside Medina High School before a city school board meeting took place so board members and the public could see the corrosion that has rendered many of the district’s buses irreparable. The board approved funding for 15 new school buses and approved soliciting bids for the purchase of two additional school buses equipped to transport students with special needs.
The Pittsfield (Mass.) City Council will trade in 52 buses and buy 43 new buses that Pittsfield Public Schools will own and operate. The district has also hired a consultant to do a one-month study of the fleet’s efficiency, which will help the next time it looks into buying a new fleet, and it could help in creating space for students who would pay to ride the buses.
The drivers for Henry (Ga.) County Schools with exemplary attendance are entered into a drawing, and they are awarded new school buses that will be delivered before the end of the school year. The buses were purchased through the state of Georgia’s “Bonds for Buses” program.
South Carolina’s Horry County Schools is considering making the investment each year until 2019 under a proposal set forth by the district’s chief officer for support services. The proposal was made to get the buses in the fleet under 15 years old to reduce breakdowns and repairs. No final decisions will be made until the district learns whether it will receive additional funding from the state.
House Bill 41 would allow the state Board of Education to award a grant to a school district or charter school to replace a school bus manufactured before 2002 with a bus that uses compressed natural gas, propane or clean diesel fuel. The grant could also be used to install an alternative-fuel fueling station and to retrofit an operation’s maintenance facility to service alternative-fuel school buses.
TradeWind Energy arranges for the lease of and delivers two new buses to Shidler (Okla.) School District after company officials learn about the district’s aging fleet and the district's difficulties in maintaining it. TradeWind Energy also commits to paying all costs associated with the lease of the buses for three years.
Under the state’s budget that was approved earlier this summer, a school bus is eligible for replacement when it is either 20 years old or has been operated for 250,000 miles, up from 200,000 miles. While advocates of the changes say that it will save money and promote more efficient use of school buses, some industry officials express differing views.
Jay Ragley with the state Department of Education says that with the new funds, each district should get at least one bus. Money in the state’s budget to pay for the school buses will come from different sources, such as lottery funding.
Funding would be cut by $28 million for 2013-14, a reduction of 42% under the Senate’s budget bill. Lawmakers are also proposing to increase the mileage limit on school buses in the state from 200,000 miles to 250,000 as a cost-savings measure.
The new Florida legislation would amend current law to expand the use of the School Capital Outlay Surtax, also known as the “school half-cent sales tax,” to include the purchases of yellow buses. Per the bill analysis, this would provide an additional funding source for bus purchases.
Agency officials call the response from school bus fleets “overwhelming” — there were more than 1,000 applications for rebates. The 30 randomly chosen recipients include school districts and contractors from various states.
The agency will collect applications for the new program from Nov. 13 to Dec. 14. A total of about $2 million will be available for rebates on new school buses to replace older buses.
If the fleet gets past a certain age, we can count on higher maintenance costs, reduced dependability, driver frustration, the need for more mechanics and maybe not meeting our school customers’ expectations.