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New Sales Tax To Reduce Need For 'School Bus Cannibalism'


It’s happening at Palm Beach County schools. Not in the classroom - in the bus barn. 

“The doors are removed. The steps are gone. The cluster. Maybe also the transmission,” said Carl Boucard, Palm Beach County School District’s transportation manager, as he climbed through what's left of a 15-year old Bluebird model. A tree branch grows through the front where the windshield should be. 

Credit Peter Haden / WLRN
A 'cannabalized' 2002 Bluebird school bus.

The derelict bus in one of around 60 that sit on the perimeter of the  district’s central lot in West Palm Beach. They’ve been stripped for parts needed to an keep aging fleet - around 900 buses - running.

“We’ve got a lot of old buses that break down regularly,” said Palm Beach County Schools Superintendent Robert Avossa. “You're supposed to change about 10 percent of your fleet each year. And we’ve not been doing that.”

The district hasn’t had the money to buy new buses, according to Avossa. 

But with the passage of the new one-cent sales tax hike, the funds will roll in. The move is expected to generate $2.7 billion  over the next decade. Some of that money will go to the school district. 

The county plans to spend $10 million each year on new school buses for the next 10 years, starting in March.

“In that time, we’ll  replace the entire fleet,” said Avossa.

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