school bus

Schools will close at 1 p.m. today due to a water outage. The Herald / Briana Wilson

All of the school buses in the Elmore County Schools fleet are now less than 10 years old. It’s an accomplishment that means the district’s transportation department will receive $1.07 million annually in state funds for the next three years.

The district reached the less-than-10-years-old mark after receiving 35 new school buses that were purchased in January for $3.1 million. Transportation director Ray Mullino said the district purchased 20 84-passenger flat nose Thomas Built Buses from Transportation South and 15 72-passenger traditional school buses from Southland International.

The district will have 130 school buses in route this school year. Through the Alabama State Department of Education’s Fleet Renewal Program, Elmore County Schools receives $8,300 for each bus in their fleet that is 10 years old or less.

“We are 100 percent funded until 2024,” Mullino said. “We plan take that money and save it so that we can buy more new buses in order to keep our fleet less than 10 years old and 100 percent funded.”

Mullino said it took some sacrifice to get to this point.

“Our last big purchase was in 2018,” he said. “We’d been saving up for three years so that we could make this purchase. We had to make some short-term sacrifices along the way to get to the long-term goal.”

Mullino said having new buses helps the transportation department tremendously.

“It helps in every way,” he said. “There’s less money spent on fuel, tires and parts. New buses require fewer maintenance repairs, which means our guys are spending less time on maintenance per bus. It helps our overall budget. But, most importantly, we know that we’re doing all we can to look out for the safety of the students.”

Right now, the transportation department is in the process of conducting inspections of each bus prior to the first day of school on Aug. 9.

“I’d just like to thank the school board and Mr. Dennis making it possible for us to purchase these 35 buses that will help keep our fleet in good shape for our students,” Mullino said.