Southampton school board unveils new fleet of buses
Published 9:51 am Saturday, November 29, 2014
The Southampton County Public School District received five new Thomas school buses recently. The new buses, built by Sonny Merryman Inc., will replace five older vehicles, as school official place emphasis on providing a safe, reliable and efficient transportation system for its students.
Superintendent Dr. Alvera J. Parrish and several members of the school board were on hand for a brief ceremony at the high school, marking the second-consecutive year that the board funded the purchase of new school buses. According to Parrish, student safety has been a continued priority since she became superintendent three years ago.
“Our school bus fleet is aging, with several buses over 15 years old,” said Parrish. “The Virginia Department of Education recommends that we renew our buses every 10 years, so we’ve been behind in that respect.”
As reported one year ago in The Tidewater News, each new school bus costs $82,000, an expense that was approved by both the school board and county board of supervisors.
Each bus holds 65 passengers and is estimated to get 10 to 11 miles per gallon, almost double what the previous vehicles attain.
“The new buses won’t require the extensive maintenance that the older buses did,” Parrish said. “It will make a tremendous impact for the children who use the buses to get to and from school, as well as those who have to get to and from after-school activities.”
These aren’t your typical school buses, either, as the new fleet features air conditioning, four security camera, graffiti-proof seats and Wi-Fi capability. The windows are tinted and the roof is painted white, making for a 12-degree temperature difference from the old buses.
As for the board’s next task, Parrish noted that there will always be room for improvement at Southampton Public Schools.
“There are several priorities for the board, whether its in instruction or athletics,” said Parrish. “Moving forward, we’d like to complete the track and the tennis court, which have been in-need for quite some time.
“As we continue to improve in all aspects, we aim to expose kids to the culture, climate and resources to compete with the best schools in the Commonwealth.”