School Districts Frugal About Bus Purchases - WSET.com - ABC13

School Districts Frugal About Bus Purchases

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Reporter: Dhomonique Ricks l Videographer: Levi Washburn

Campbell Co., VA - It is no secret that school budgets are tight. Districts are trying to save money any way they can, and one area seeing cutbacks is buses.

School board members say before the economy went south, the district would replace 8%-10% of their fleet every year. That is not the case anymore.

"Generally we would see about a 1,200 bus market in the state of Virginia in a normal year," said Floyd Merryman, president/CEO Sonny Merryman, Inc. "The last four years we have been lucky to see a 600 bus market."

Merryman has seen first-hand how tight things are within school districts.

"Campbell County would generally buy 10 buses a year. That's what they were budgeted for," Merryman said. "Now, they're only buying buses with what leftover money they can come up with at the end of the year."

School Board Member Roger Akers says before the economy declined, their bus fleet was in really good shape.

"We're in decent shape now. We have been able to with our savings and fuel costs, purchase one or two buses a year and we plan to purchase two buses this year," Akers said.

Some good news. But...

"We are four years behind right now," said Akers.

That is about 30 buses they would have ideally switched out by now.

"They're not buying what they need to be buying and one of these days it's going to catch up with them," Merryman said.

But it is not just Campbell County. Many districts are facing the same thing. These buses are not cheap - one can cost upwards of $90,000. So instead of shelling out that kind of money, many districts are trying to keep older buses running longer.

"All you have to do is look at these school districts' maintenance budgets and I can promise you they are astronomical," Merryman said.

Bedford County just opted to delay buying 13 buses this coming school year. Merryman says buses are typically replaced every 12 to 15 years. School board members say parents need not to worry because bus transporting a child is maintained and safe.

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