TAMPA, FL (WFLA) – Hillsborough County Superintendent Jeff Eakins plans to ask the school board Tuesday to spend $21 million to buy 200 new school buses. Hillsborough County has one of the oldest school bus fleets in the state.
A September 17th incident where an older model bus crashed into an Odessa pond highlighted the district’s need for new buses. The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office blamed the driver for the accident, not mechanical issues. Still many parents tell 8 On Your Side they find the age of the bus alarming. It is 20 years-old and has nearly 300,000 miles on it.
More than 150 of Hillsborough’s 900 school buses on the roads right now are two decades old. District leaders planned to purchase 100 new school buses each year to update the fleet, but fell behind on those plans. The vote to buy 200 new buses this year was already in the works before the accident.
“Now understanding and knowing all of the fund balances and how we are going to be moving forward, it makes it a lot easier for us to make clear decisions as to where the priorities are with directing the budget and how to spend it,” explained School Board Chair Susan Valdes.
If the purchase is approved Tuesday, it will still take a while to get the fleet up to date. Eakins says money is already budgeted to purchase 100 additional buses each year for the next decade.
Tuesday’s meeting is at 3 p.m. Count on 8 On Your Side to be there to let you know what happens.