Area schools to get some new buses soon
Dec 28, 2012 (The Times and Democrat - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Some area school districts will soon receive at least 13 modern buses, but it's not yet certain which bus routes will be served by the new vehicles.
State Superintendent of Education Dr. Mick Zais announced on Thursday that the S.C. Department of Education has purchased 342 buses at a cost of $82,000 each for a total $28 million.
A list released by the department shows Orangeburg County getting 10 buses and Calhoun County getting three buses.
Spokesman Jay Ragley said he doesn't know at this point which districts the buses will be going to.
"Orangeburg County school districts are served by ... the Dorchester shop and the Orangeburg shop. The Dorchester shop is receiving three buses and the Orangeburg shop is receiving 10 buses," he said. "The Orangeburg shop serves Bamberg County."
He did not know if any of the Orangeburg County-based buses will be used in Bamberg County.
According to Ragley, the new buses will replace aging vehicles dating from 1984 to 1987.
Zais said the new school buses "are more fuel efficient, less expensive to maintain and are equipped to transport students with disabilities."
During the state's last legislative session, it looked as if districts might be the ones purchasing new buses. The S.C. General Assembly considered the "School Bus Privatization Act of 2012," which would have turned responsibility for transporting students over to local districts. However, the bill failed to pass.
The majority of Orangeburg Consolidated School District 5's buses are 20 to 30 years old, and about 80 percent of them need to be replaced, trustee Vernon Stephens has said.
Zais said this is the first time the state has purchased newly manufactured buses since 2008.
"Today marks the first step in modernizing the nation's oldest school bus fleet," he 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."
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