By Kathryn Schiliro, Managing Editor

The Morgan County School System’s bus fleet has found the Fountain of Youth. Or so it seems.

In all seriousness, the system bus’ average age is 10 years, compared to Oconee County’s 20 to 25 years, system Director of Transportation Brad Frink told the Board of Education (BOE) at their August meeting.

Buses cost about $85,000 a piece, and the state provides between $11,000 and $13,000 in bond money annually for the purchase of buses, which means the purchase of schoolbuses every year is primarily funded through local revenue.

The relative youth of the county school system’s bus fleet means “borderline maintenance procedures” have kept the fleet in shape for many years, Frink said. In an effort to keep the buses in service for a bit longer – and get more for taxpayers’ money – Frink reported he is in an evaluation stage, “making many changes to ensure student safety, compliance with all commercial vehicle safety standards (many changes since 2010), maximum fuel economy, and maximum reliability/durability.”

The system received three new buses last month, and the fleet’s three oldest buses – two from 1998 and one from 1999 – will be disposed of later this year, provided the BOE votes to surplus the buses at their September meeting.

The BOE voted unanimously at their August meeting to approve the FY2014 budget for the Technology and Career Education Local Plan. The plan includes a Carl D. Perkins Federal Grant for near $33,000, a more than $13,000 supplement for the high school’s vocational supervisor, a $13,000-plus Extended Day State Grant to be tacked on to the salaries of four classroom instructors who also teach vocational courses, a $16,000 for Ag Extended Day/Extended Year State Grants for three agriculture teachers and a state grant for more than $10,000 to fund the Youth Apprenticeship Program.