GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. — School board members here voted last week to spend about $1 million on 13 new school buses in an effort to upgrade the district’s aging fleet, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.

Officials said in a recent presentation that the average age of a Gwinnett County Public Schools bus is 17 years, which is nearly twice the national average, according to the newspaper. (SBF found in a recent survey that the average school bus fleet age is a little over 9 years.) Adding to the concerns about the aging fleet are worries that parts on many of the buses are obsolete.

The new buses will have LED lights and other safety features that would make the buses worth their average sale price of about $82,000, Daniel Jardine, the school district’s chief operations officer, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. District officials said they would pay for the new buses with fines they’ve collected from motorists who failed to stop for stopped school buses. Jardine added that the district also plans to spend $24.5 million to buy more school buses from a 1% Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax that county voters passed last year to fund school improvements over the next five years.

Another Atlanta-area school district is also experiencing challenges with its school bus fleet. In April, Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent Meria Carstarphen told the newspaper that about one-third of the district's school buses have defective engines, which resulted in overcrowding on buses. The district spent $2 million at the end of last year to buy new buses with different engines, and plans to spend another $16.3 million on transportation in proceeds from its next Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax. DeKalb County School District also told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution last fall that it is working to address overcrowding on its school buses.

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