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COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - South Carolina schools chief Mick Zais is announcing the delivery of 342 new school buses that will replace buses up to 28 years old.

The oldest buses in South Carolina's fleet carry students with disabilities. Some have logged more than half a million miles.

The new arrivals will replace all models dating from 1984 through 1987, plus a few from 1988. They include lifts and spaces for wheelchairs.

In 2007, legislators approved replacing the statewide fleet every 15 years by buying about 380 new buses each year. But lawmakers ignored the bus replacement law amid the economic downturn.

South Carolina since bought used buses from other states by selling the skeletal remains of broken-down buses for scrap. But buying buses for special needs students wasn't an option at the auctions.

A by-the-numbers look at the state's bus fleet


COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - Superintendent Mick Zais announced Thursday that school districts are receiving 342 new school buses to replace models up to 28 years old. They cost $82,030 each, for a total cost of $28.1 million:

-The buses replace models dating from 1984 through 1987 and some from 1988. Those decommissioned will take their place at the back of lots to be cannibalized for parts to service other old buses.

-The state keeps 5,023 buses on the roads daily; 42 percent of those are younger than 15 years old. The agency also owns 607 spare buses to use when the newer buses break down, all of which are pre-1997 models.

-The new buses run an average of 7.5 miles per gallon, compared to 5.8 miles per gallon averaged by the replaced buses.

-The average age of the fleet improves to 14 years old, from 15 years old.

-88 percent of the new buses' cost, or $24.6 million, came from lottery funds: $12.4 million from unclaimed lottery prizes in 2011-12, $6 million from unclaimed prizes so far this fiscal year, and $6.3 million in lottery surpluses from 2011-12.

-Of the remaining $3.5 million cost, more than one-third came from selling scrap left from buses already stripped for parts.

-Legislators approved the $12 million in the 2011-12 budget over Gov. Nikki Haley's veto. That marked legislators' first designation for new buses since 2007, when they approved replacing the statewide fleet every 15 years.

-Haley's 2013-14 budget includes no money for buses as she again recommends selling the fleet and transferring responsibilities to districts. Zais' budget request seeks $34 million, similar to his request last year.

-The education agency purchased used buses from other states at auction three times in six years: 73 buses from Kentucky in 2005, 85 buses again from Kentucky in 2010, and 24 from Alabama in January 2011.