The Los Banos Unified School District has agreed to spend $1.1 million to upgrade its bus fleet.
The school board approved five-year leases of six new buses last week. The money will come from extra funding the district receives through Gov. Jerry Brown’s Local Control Funding Formula for schools.
“I’m happy we’re getting these,” said Andree Soares, school board president. “I know we’ve been kind of limping along ... needing to buy more buses more often, we just haven’t been able to do so.”
Los Banos schools have five buses that are more than 20 years old and two more than 30. The California Highway Patrol, which is responsible for the annual inspection and certification of those buses, has been pressing the school district to upgrade.
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Trustee Tommy Jones said he is happy about the purchase agreement.
“We gotta have safe buses for the kids, and I think that was the cheapest and best way to do it,” Jones said.
Last month Superintendent Steve Tietjen said the district has some buses that can only be driven 1,000 miles per year because they do not have the required catalytic converters.
Despite the older buses, Tietjen said parents can be assured their children are safe. He said buses are routinely inspected, and if problems are discovered they are taken out of service until the issue is fixed.
The new buses, which are being purchased from Mercedes-Benz Financial Services through a piggyback contract with Hemet Unified School District, will not arrive until December.
Stella Adams, the school district’s transportation manager, said of the six buses, four will hold 82 passengers, one will hold 36 and one wheelchair, and another will hold 28 and four wheelchairs. All of the buses will have seat belts, which has been the law for school buses in California since 2010.