But can a refurbished school bus roll the same way as a new bus?
Until recently, the state would only contribute toward the purchase of new vehicles, but since the prolonged recession, local school boards can now use state funds to refurbish school buses rather than having to replace them.
Geary Cooper, transportation director for Gordon County Schools, said approximately 80 buses were used to service about 154 routes, carrying around 7,000 students, last year.
“Our oldest bus is as good as one of those refurbished buses,” Cooper said; the oldest model a 91.’
“Me, personally, I don’t like the idea. I understand where they are going, but I don’t see why they are doing it. It’s really according to how much money they allot you.”
“The bill would only allow us to send it to a (state-approved) shop and we already have the ability to do it here,” he added.
Cooper said having a full-service shop is key to maintaining the school’s bus fleet.
“My shop is full service and we can paint, do upholstery and redesign,” Cooper said.
According to the Georgia Department of Education website, school bus fleets must meet all national and state safety specifications.
Cooper said it would include an interior and outside inspection of the school bus.
Each bus undergoes an annual safety inspection by the Georgia Department of Motor Vehicles, as well as a monthly safety inspection conducted by the school system’s own transportation fleet mechanics.
Cooper said that the County Schools conduct inspections every 20 days and replace seat covers and perform checks throughout the busses.
“I compare (the older busses) to my 2011 models and you won’t see much difference. I would send a spare (bus) to Florida — and those are my 91 models — without a second thought,” Cooper said.
Calhoun City School system is following the path of the County School system by keeping its current fleet.
“We do not plan to refurbish our buses at this time but appreciate the support the state is providing regarding future transportation needs,” said City Schools Superintendent Michele Taylor.
Calhoun currently operates 16 route buses, officials stated.
Tim Duncan, transportation director for Calhoun City Schools, was on vacation during the time of this interview.