The National School Transportation Association has urged the South Carolina to consider contracting out its student transportation as an alternative to replacing the state’s aging fleet of school buses.
NSTA recommended the state seek outside contractors to offset costs since a potential partnership with school bus companies could provide an immediate influx of new vehicles, potentially saving taxpayers millions of dollars.
Earlier this month, South Carolina Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman requested funding to replace more than half of the school buses in the state’s fleet, which is the oldest in the nation. The Palmetto State has owned and operated its fleet since the 1950s.
Officials reported that the maintenance prices of these buses—many of them with manufacture dates that span nearly 30 years—has skyrocketed: It costs the state roughly twice as much to operate these outmoded buses than running modern ones.
Spearman recently outlined her plan to ask the state legislature for $95 million to buy 1,000 new school buses, along with an additional $9.5 million annual increase for school bus purchasing, maintenance and employee salaries.
She has also worked with state Treasurer Curtis Loftis and the general assembly to establish the first lease-to-purchase program for school buses, which Spearman is currently push for through advocacy and eventual utilization.
There has been no confirmation whether South Carolina will consider NSTA’s recommendation to contract out for its school bus.
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