Midlands parents want funding for aging school buses

Midlands parents want funding for aging school buses

RICHLAND COUNTY, SC (WIS) - Do you know how old the bus your child rides to school is? The age of the bus may surprise you.

In Lexington District one, more than a third of all of those buses are more than 20 years old. In Lexington District 5, 37 percent of all of those buses are 21 years old, or older.

But in the Richland School District 2, nearly half of all of those buses are more than two decades old, or 46 percent of the fleet.

Now, Districts are trying to figure out how many buses they can afford, with no guarantee of lottery money, that was vetoed out of this year's budget by Governor McMaster.

Both parents and leaders of Richland 2 are hoping lawmakers can make as many new buses a reality as possible, and as soon as they can.

Richland County parent Monifa Lemons is one mother who grows more concerned about the bus her children board each school day.

"I literally have the main office of transportation on my favorites list," Lemons said.

Lemons says break-downs, that dig into learning time spent in the classroom, are common.

"But then I find out later that one bus broke down and then their school bus driver had to take two and three routes. So, my children get to school an hour and a half late," Lemons said.

But she's thankful is hasn't got any worse than that. Engine fires have happened on certain older bus models across the state…

Across the state, there are 791 buses older than the 1995 model, and 1,086 1995-1996 models still on the roads. These models are the buses known for breaking down, even catching fire.

"I don't think we stop and look at what it means to get children to school safely," Lemons said. "Then I think the parents would feel maybe a little bit more important like they're treated a little more important."

Lemons wants lawmakers to help fund more than 118 new buses - and to consider doing that as soon as possible.

School leaders say their bus fleet is one of the oldest in the state, with a majority of the reserve fleet older than the 1988 bus model.

The Department of Education says they plan to distribute the new buses to districts based on things like the average age of the district's bus fleets, the number of routes they have, and how many special needs students there are, among other factors.

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