$34 million isn't enough to replace SC school buses - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

$34 million isn't enough to replace SC school buses

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BEAUFORT CO., SC (WTOC) -

South Carolina's Superintendent of schools, Mick Zais, is asking for $34 million to put new buses on the streets.

With more than 3,300 buses that are more than 15 years old, that money won't even replace half of them.

"Beggars can't be choosers as the old saying goes," Jim Foster, of Beaufort County Schools said, "So we'd be happy to get 5 or 6 new buses, but they won't come close to replacing the 25-year-old buses that we have."

If lawmakers approve the $34 million, Beaufort County will get approximately eight new buses.

Each bus costs around $80,000. It will cost the state $273 million just to replace them all.

The money the superintendent is requesting will only buy 414 buses.

Bus drivers, like Arlene Blue, are demanding lawmakers approve the funding. She says, something has to be done.

"They tell us that kids are our precious cargo," she said. "That's like having your own vehicle. You wouldn't ride your children around in your vehicle with two good tires, a donut, and a bad tire, and that's how some of these buses are."

She's been driving a 1995 bus since she first started driving for the county seven years ago. A new motor was put in the bus at the beginning of the school year, but it broke down again in October.

"[For the] 10th and 11th time, seriously," said Blue.

The Department of Education said they understand bus drivers' frustration, but state leaders have to approve the money.

"We'd really like to see the general assembly fully fund our bus request to make sure that the bus fleet is up to par," said Dino Teppara, with SC Department of Ed.

Zais requested $34 million last year, but legislators approved $23.5 million, and only gave them $15 million for new buses.

If they approve Zais' request this year, Jasper and Hampton Counties will get two new buses each.

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