By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Managing Editor
ALABASTER – More students in Alabaster City Schools will have a refreshing ride home as the school system continues to upgrade its fleet of new air conditioned school buses.
Back in 2013, they made the commitment to update the school the buses and rolled out their first five air-conditioned buses in August of 2014.
Now, six years later, the fleet of buses is up to 46 after the school system recently bought eight more.
“That was one of the first things we wanted to do when we started in 2013 was get air-conditioned buses,” ACS Superintendent Dr. Wayne Vickers said. “We felt that commitment was important for our students.”
In 2014, when the school system purchased the first five, Vickers said those would be the standard moving forward and they had no plans to purchase any other type of buses, setting a new standard.
That sparked the plan of attempting to replace all 75 of the buses in the school system with the new air-conditioned model, and this purchase of eight additional buses now puts them more than halfway there with 46 total.
While a couple of the new buses are on campuses, the majority of the new rides will be put in use in February.
“It’s very important for our system and our kids. It will benefit our kids tremendously and puts us one step closer to completing our fleet, which will hopefully happen in the next year or so,” ACS Board of Education President Adam Moseley said. “There are a lot of places that still don’t have air conditioned buses, but for where we live it’s a nice amenity to have.”
The cost of the school buses was $769,912 and includes six non-lift and two lift buses.
A major portion of the money used to purchase the new buses was part of the state’s advancement and technology fund given to schools in Alabama. Last November, the state handed out $198 million to schools across the state.
Funding from the advancement and technology fund can be used for maintenance, insurance, transportation, technology, security and classroom instructional supplies.
The new buses also include storage, cameras and a microphone to help accommodate both the driver and student as well as to help with safety measures.
“Our main goal is to work diligently for the kids riding buses to give them the best environment possible,” Vickers said. “They’re the ones that are using them every day. We know in Alabama how hot it is for a large portion of the school year.”
“Their riding buses in the Alabama heat in August, September and sometimes even October. And being stuck in Alabaster traffic, they’re not only on the buses for long periods of time, but there isn’t enough of a breeze to just put the windows down and cool off.”
Vickers reiterated with this new purchase that the goal is for the fleet to eventually reach 100 percent capacity sooner rather than later.