The South-Western City School District is phasing out old buses in its transportation fleet and plans to be rid of all of its 1997 models this year.

The South-Western City School District is phasing out old buses in its transportation fleet and plans to be rid of all of its 1997 models this year.

"We're on track," district transportation supervisor Tim Cox said during his transportation update at the school board meeting Feb. 28.

This year, the district purchased six 77-passenger buses and five handicap buses, Cox said. The district spent about $78,000 per bus. Ten 1997 models are left. Those buses are used as spares or for field trips.

The district's transportation department is on a 13- to 15-year replacement cycle, Cox said. The average age of the district's 133 buses is seven years. The district employs 154 full-time drivers and 33 bus aides.

About 16,700 students are eligible to ride the bus to and from school. Of those, about 13,000 students use bus transportation, Cox said.

"I think that's a good number," he said.

The board also heard an update from food service supervisor Beth Glitt, who said the district is ahead of the curve in meeting standards set forth by Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act. The new federal law is expected to require larger portions of fruit, vegetables and whole grain, while limiting sodium and calories for school meals. It will take effect in July.

"The new regulations required by the United States Department of Agriculture will not be a hard fit for us here at South-Western, because of our prior commitment to healthier school meals," Glitt said.

The district has eliminated french fries at Central Crossing High School. Westland High School serves french fries once per week. Baked potatoes have been added at the lower grade levels. Baked chicken nuggets are made with whole grain breading. Salads have dark green, leafy lettuce, a requirement for next year. Legumes have been introduced to schools, as have black beans to taco bars and garbanzo beans for salads.

Breakfast has increased by more than 450 meals a day and lunch by more than 300 meals a day.

The food service department also updated its point of sale system for lunches, Glitt said, enabling students to keep one personal identification number throughout their schooling.

Prior to this, students' PINs changed each time they moved to a new building. Glitt said she didn't have a cost for the update available.