With no money for new buses, South Carolina is buying 85 used school buses from Kentucky for $328,903, the state education agency announced Tuesday.
The agency gathered the money by selling to scrap metal companies the skeletal remains of broken-down buses, which had been parked at the back of maintenance lots and cannibalized for replacement parts. It is the second such purchase in five years. South Carolina bought 73 buses from Kentucky at auction in 2005.
After years of debate, the Legislature approved a plan in 2007 to replace the fleet every 15 years. But no money has been set aside to purchase buses for two years.
Buying buses that average 18 years old is obviously not ideal, said Superintendent Jim Rex. But he noted the buses were really cheap, with the winning bids at auction between $2,864 and $4,500 each, and the purchase allows the state to get buses off the road that are 26 or 27 years old and average 450,000 miles each.
By comparison, replacing a bus engine and transmission costs more than $5,700, said Don Tudor, the agency's transportation director.