The economic downturn has enabled Columbus City Schools to purchase more buses than district administrators initially anticipated.

The economic downturn has enabled Columbus City Schools to purchase more buses than district administrators initially anticipated.

The school board voted unanimously Jan. 20 to buy the buses.

Larry Hoskins, chief operating officer for the district, said 137 buses will be purchased from Center City International over the next two years -- 69 this year and 68 next year -- at a total cost of about $10.5-million.

While planning the purchase, the district expected it would be able to afford 120 buses, Hoskins said. But demand is down and the district will get more buses for its money.

"The long and short of it is ... given the current market, supply for buses is very high, obviously, and the demand is very low," Hoskins said. "We were able to purchase 17 additional buses for the same amount of money."

The district plans to replace half of its 540 buses in the next four years. Hoskins said the district won't receive the same deal when buying buses in the future because federal manufacturing guidelines for the vehicles will change after 2010.

"Obviously, with the manufacturers not knowing exactly how much it will cost, they were a little more skeptical about locking in a price," he said.

The district will pay for the buses with funds from the $164-million bond issue approved by voters in November.

In other school board business, Ramona Reyes was sworn in last week to replace board member W. Carlton Weddington, who was elected to the Ohio House of Representatives in November.

She was one of eight applicants for the position.

Reyes, a native of Texas, is a human resource specialist for Nationwide Insurance Enterprise, where she has worked for 17 years. She has also served as a senior marketing analyst and in the corporate communications office.

She was a member of the Ohio Commission of Hispanic/Latino Affairs from 2004-08. She earned a degree in business administration from Ohio State.

In addition, Reyes is the president of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and has volunteered with the United Way of Central Ohio and the Mid-Ohio Food Bank.

"As we celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday and the inauguration of President (Barack) Obama, we are empowered to affect the educational future of all students, regardless of background, ethnicity and social economic level," Reyes said after the swearing-in.

The meeting was also the last for board member Terry Boyd, who announced earlier this year he would step down in order to concentrate on his job at Franklin University.

Boyd, a past board president, is expected to leave the government body at the end of the month. A replacement is expected to be named in early February.