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Effingham School District Purchases New Buses
Parked School Buses
Effingham County Schools will have two dozen new school buses next year.

Effingham students will have new rides next year.

Noting that the prices keep going up, Effingham County School officials decided to act sooner rather than later. The Effingham County Board of Education agreed to purchase two dozen new school buses at its Feb. 1 meeting. Most of the new buses will be ready for students when school starts for 2023-24 in August.

According to Dana King, transportation coordinator for the district, of Effingham County’s nearly 14,100 students, 64%, or 9,024 students, ride the school bus at least one way every day. The district currently has a fleet of 179 buses; and eight buses have been on order since June 2022. Of those, six should be delivered within two weeks.

King explained the additional new buses are necessary due to increasing student enrollment and to replace a number of buses that are more than 10 years old and have more than 100,000 miles on them. Many of the older buses also don’t have air conditioning nor a mechanical door, which puts extra strain on the driver to open and close the heavy door at each stop and may also contribute to employee injuries.

She added that out of necessity, 67 buses more than 10 years old are still being used to transport students every day. Of the district’s 18 SPED buses, five are older than 10 years and should also be replaced. Some even older buses that aren’t being used to transport students due to needing replacement parts more expensive than the bus is worth, are being scavenged for spare parts as needed.

In addition to air conditioning and a mechanical door, the new buses would be fitted with the new camera system to allow drivers to monitor student behavior on the bus. The current bus fleet is being retrofitted with the cameras a few every day. “So how that works is when something happens like a fight breaks out or a child's being disrespectful, the driver (pushes that) panic button,” King explained to the board. “Every time that driver hits that panic button, five minutes prior to that incident and five minutes after it'll automatically record.” She added that the system was used just that afternoon on a bus and the video was viewed transportation staff within 30 seconds.

King reiterated the transportation department’s mission is to transport the students to and from school safely with a mindset ready to learn. In addition to the morning and afternoon routes, buses are used continually throughout the day transporting students, for example, 28 daily shuttles from both high schools to Effingham College and Career Academy, among others. King explained there are 140 regular routes taking students to and from school and 413 daily runs (shuttles between schools, field trips or sports team trips) the transportation department completes each day. “Anytime you’re riding down the road, you’re going to see a bus running,” she said. King added the transportation department recently added two new routes – one for Ebenezer Elementary and Ebenezer Middle schools and another for the Guyton area. The department has hired four new drivers and offered CDL classes for district staff during the last two weeks of January.

At the end of her presentation, King delineated the purchase cost to the district for 25 72-passengerThomasville buses and three Thomasville lift (SPED) buses at just over $2.49 million. This amount includes a $1 million credit allotment and an additional $22,332 credit from the state for safety features such as the camera system and illuminated signs on the bus exterior. The initial cost was just over $3.57 million before the credits.

After brief discussion, the board agreed to go ahead and purchase the buses using Education Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (ESPLOST) funds to avoid any more price increases from the manufacturer. Twenty-four of the regular-ed buses are stock buses that should be delivered by August. The 25th bus may take up to 10 months to be delivered. Those 24 buses will allow the district to retire many of the older buses currently being used. King’s full presentation is available on the district’s website at under the School Board and “Meetings and Agendas” tab.