At least 10 new buses will be added to the Reynoldsburg city schools' fleet in the next year -- the first such purchases in two years.

At least 10 new buses will be added to the Reynoldsburg city schools' fleet in the next year -- the first such purchases in two years.

District business manager Ron Strussion said the cost of a new bus is $71,500. The money for the purchase comes from the district's permanent improvement fund.

He said a purchase order was placed for five new buses Aug. 21 with an expected delivery time of 60 days.

"We're probably 15 buses behind in keeping up on the rotation, so I'd like to get five this year and five next year, and eke out whatever I can the following year to get back on track again," Strussion said. "We were on a rotation where we would get five buses every year up until 2007, just to update the fleet, but that money came out of our permanent improvement fund and at that time, we needed the money for our construction projects and land purchase.

"Now I can free up some money from the PI fund and buy some new buses."

Transportation supervisor Mike Rosenberger said 12 buses in the current fleet of 58 are more than 15 years old. Once the five new buses arrive, at least three older vehicles will be retired for parts. Those three are

18, 19 and 20 years old, he said.

Rosenberger said that according to the Ohio Department of Education, the life of a school bus is 15 years or 225,000 miles. All the Reynoldsburg buses scheduled to be taken off the road are past both those marks.

He said 51 buses are actually used daily during the school year with a crew of 59 drivers, which includes substitutes.

Rosenberger said the new buses are built by the International Group out of Tulsa and are designed to hold 77 passengers.

"The design is for 77 elementary children, but the legal capacity when it comes to bigger children is, every child has to have a seat that provides them maximum safety behind the seat in front of them," Rosenberger said. "So we can't put three kids in a seat that are large kids, so capacity becomes a third less."

That means, he said, that a 77-passenger bus would have a 52-person capacity.

New emission standards that go into effect in 2010 will add about $6,000 to the cost of a school bus, Rosenberger said.

"So if we purchase them this year and in 2009, we'll save $30,000, and that's smart business. It makes good fiscal sense," he said. "It's legal to buy them prior to the new emissions standards we don't have to do any retrofitting or anything after that."

Rosenberger said the important thing for parents and taxpayers to know is that 12 Reynoldsburg school buses "are past what ODE says are the life of a bus.

"Now, do we hold them together with Band-Aids and make sure they're safe for children? Absolutely we do, but we have to be on a regular replacement schedule," he said.