School Buses

School Bus

School Buses
The DeKalb County School District (DCSD) has an aging fleet of roughly 1,000 school buses. With E-SPLOST V monies, DCSD plans on spending about $30 million replacing the oldest school buses.
Earlier this month the board approved the purchase of 120 buses at a cost not to exceed $10 million. The purchase includes:

  • Ninety-two (92) Type-C 72-Passenger School buses at $77,089 each
  • Twenty-five (25) Type-C 48-Passengers with Air Condition and Wheelchair Lift at $90,175 each
  • Three (3) 82-Passenger Type-D Transit School buses at $107,081 each

I asked Mr. Joshua Williams to tell us about the features that are requested and/or required on new school buses we purchase.

DeKalb Joshua Williams

Joshua Williams
Chief Operating Officer, DeKalb County School District

School buses are purchased similar to purchasing an automobile. There is a base price and options are added in accordance with school system requirements. DeKalb County School District orders buses with the follow-ing options/enhancements and come installed as part of the delivered vehicle:

1. 240 AMP Alternator 13. Air Dryer
(Higher Capacity) 14 12 Volt access block
2. Vandal Locks on all Doors 15. Air Conditioner (Special Need Only)
3. White Painted Roof 16. Driver’s Dome Lighting
4. Air operated Crossing Arm 17. Noise Reduction Package
5. Air ride Drivers Seat 18. 5-Year 100,000 miles Bumper to Bumper Warranty w/Tow
6. Engine Exhaust Brake 19. 100 Gallon Fuel Tank
7. Battery Cut off Switch 20. Air Disc Brakes
8. Tinted Windows 21. 12 Volt Power Port
9. All Buses Keyed Alike 22. Integrated Child Seat 3-point (Special Needs Only)
10. Mud Flaps Front and Rear 23. Entrance Door 3 Position Switch
11. Higher Rated Tires 24. Pass Through Luggage Compartment (Transit Only)
12. Spare Tire and Wheel 25. Engine Telemetrics

Additionally, we use a third party installer for two components after the school buses are delivered:

  • Radio
  • Global Position System (GPS)


11 responses to “School Buses

  1. I can’t believe given all of these features that the buses do not have seat belts for all children.

  2. al weidenmuller

    Are individual seat belts/shoulder belts an option?

  3. Adrienne Duncan

    Ditto to the above re: seat belts. In any other vehicle on the road, all occupants are required to be in seat belts or the driver gets ticketed. But not school buses?? I’m glad my Coralwood ES student has seatbelts on his bus but what about every other student out there? If there’s a rationale for this I would really like to hear it.

  4. If you Google “school busses seat belts,” you’ll find lots of articles about this. Here’s one:

  5. I would love to see cameras included on the new buses (I believe they are on the ‘stop’ sign arm) to take pictures of those making illegal passes of buses while stopped.

  6. I am surprised the district has purchased new buses without the motion sensing camera on the arm. Many school districts now include that feature. I am also concerned that the newly purchased buses don’t have internal cameras to monitor the students as well as the bus drivers – to catch those bus drivers texting and talking on their phones as well as the students picking fights, bullying and littering.
    Stan, the district repeatedly says they have an aging fleet. Buses have been a part of every SPLOST I can recall and I think operating funds were also used on several occasions. Can you share the number of buses the district has purchased over the past 15 years? Has the district ever considered contracting for the buses – many school districts around the country do this. This takes away the need to continually replace buses as that responsibility would fall on the company. In addition, we would no longer need bus mechanics, parts, etc. Seems worth at least investigating. SPLOST funds are supposed to be for capitol improvements and buses don’t fit into any definition of “capital improvements”, although somehow school districts are able to get away with that use of the funds. Buses are an operational cost and should actually be in the operating budget.

  7. Forgot to mention that many school districts also have an onboard electronic reminder system to remind the driver to check for sleeping kids before closing up the bus. DCSD has had a few of those incidences in the recent past so that would also be a wise enhancement. Stan, do you know if the GPS system being installed shows bus location and speed – also valuable tools other systems use?

  8. Don McChesney

    Good points AB. We have been buying school buses forever. Remember this board used SPLOST funds to buy cars for administrators last time. It was supposed to be for buses and work vehicles, but they modified a previous BOE purchase and included the fleet of cars.

    Note from FactChecker staff: I inserted this picture Mr. McChesney took a few years back of the cars purchased for administrators with SPLOST IV dollars. Well done Mr. McChesney.

  9. I really think the administration will have either some new cars bought and/or numerous others added, such as Supt. Green. It wouldn’t be DeKalb without in-your-face corruption.

  10. There was an at length discussion about seat belts on the bus at the last board meeting. Dr. Erwin and Dr. Morley are pressing the Superintendent for more information. There is a lot of research and debate about seat belts on school buses. The administration is going to research this and come back with their analysis.
    The administration went into many of the reasons they currently don’t have seat belts on buses. They mentioned it is extremely expensive to put seat belts on buses. It limits the number of students that can fit in a seat. The seat belts can be become weapons. For neighborhood driving, the buses are some of the safest vehicles on the road.
    Tucker Mom’s link is the gist of some of the administration’s views.
    I’m not sure about the logistics of a bus driver getting a bus full of elementary students to buckle up. I have to stay on my kids to buckle up and stay buckled in the car.
    The buses currently do not have arm cameras, but the administration is currently looking into them.
    Some service vehicles will be purchased with SPLOST V dollars. My understanding is that they will all be for maintenance, SROs, etc … and not for central office staff.
    The GPS system shows the central office a lot of real time information. I would like to see that system enhanced in a safe and secure way. It would be nice for parents to get notifications when the bus breaks down, is late or is about to arrive.

  11. What about cameras in the buses to monitor driver behavior and student behavior? There have been instances of students reporting drivers texting/using phones and the district denied them. Cameras would take care of that. Otherwise it continues to be student word against driver’s word.