elmore county schools

The Elmore County Board of Education is investing a total of $3.1 million on the purchase of 35 new school buses for the 2021-2022 school year.

The school board approved the measure at a meeting on Jan. 19. The district's transportation director Ray Mullino said the district purchased 20 84-passenger flat nose buses from Transportation South and 15 72-passenger traditional school buses from Southland International.

The 20 flat nose buses have a price tag of $94,406 each, for a total of $1.88 million, while the 15 traditional buses cost $80,870 each, for a total of $1.21 million. That brings the district's total to $3.1 million.

The buses are being funded using a combination of state allocated funds and excess fleet renewal funds. Through the fleet renewal program, the state provides funding to school systems for each school bus in their fleet that is 10 years old or less. The additional of the new buses also means more fleet renewal funds for the district.

Mullino said the district expects to receive the buses in June. About 30 buses will be taken off the road next school year and replaced with the new ones. Mullino said the new buses will be divided evenly throughout the school system so that each community will receive at least two or three new buses.

Elmore County BOE chief financial officer Jason Mann said the school system is also planning for future growth.

"The construction of Redland Middle means additional bus routes," Mann said. "We want to start thinking about that now and making sure that we have enough buses to cover those additional routes."

The district will add about five more bus routes with the opening of the new middle school, Mullino added.

"Our goal is to provide our students with the best, safest buses around," Mullino said. "The buses we do have, although they are older, are being kept in good working condition by great mechanics. We have the best mechanics in the state, and I'm not just saying that. During our last shop inspection, the inspector said he would consider our shop among the top three in the state. That's because of good leadership from our shop foreman and a lot of hard work from our mechanics."

Mann added that new buses also decrease maintenance and repair costs for the shop, which helps the district save money.