Covington County students will head back to class with the help of 11 new buses.
“We are so happy to have these new buses,” said Dr. Arnetta Crosby, Covington County School District Superintendent.  “Everyone knows that our school district was in desperate need of new buses.  The school board was very clear that they wanted to purchase new buses.”
The district purchased 10 regular school buses and one special education bus, according to Crosby.
“We had planned to purchase the new buses when one of our special education buses was involved in an accident and was totaled.  So we had to go ahead and purchase a new special education bus also,” said Crosby.
The school district was able to purchase the buses with help from the state, explained Crosby.
“They grouped us with several other districts who were in need of buses and were able to purchase a larger number of buses at a better price,” she said.
The total cost for the new buses was $886,300.  Crosby explained that the buses were purchased on a lease purchase agreement.
“We have an annual payment of $139,185.52 that will allow us to pay off two buses per year,” she said.
The lease is a seven-year lease, and Crosby noted that the district plans to continue the rotation and purchase two new buses per year.
“That annual payment is the cost of two buses so we will replace two buses each year.
The district has been in need of the new buses for several years, but because of a very tight budget, that has not been possible.
“Because of all the budget cuts, there were so many other immediate needs that had to be addressed before our bus situation,” said Crosby, “but it’s no secret that we received a citation during the accrediting process for the age of our buses.  Some were over 20 years old, and we had to do something.
“With this new lease agreement, we will finally be able to update our buses.”
Not only are the new buses more comfortable, they are also much safer according to Crosby.
“The buses are designed to minimalize injuries if they are involved in an accident,” she said.  “They are going to be much safer for our children.”
Currently, the district runs 56-58 buses per day.  They will pull 10 of the oldest buses out of service and replace them with the new buses.
“The ones we replace will be used as substitutes when they are needed,” said Crosby.