Columbia, SC (WLTX) - For weeks lawmakers debated how much money the department of education should receive to purchase new buses.
When the budget was approved last week they set aside $23.5 million to replace outdated buses.
"We will probably be able to buy 275 and 300 new buses that will be dispersed throughout the state," said Jay Ragley with the state Department of Education.
Getting 300 new school buses may sound like a major accomplishment but South Carolian two thirds of the buses that your children are ridding in are 15, 20 and even 25 years old and still haven't been replaced.
"Despite the fleets age we have a great team of mechanics and technicians across the state that maintain the buses so they are safe, they are inefficient but they are in safe working condition."
Ragley says $23.5 million is a good start but lawmakers need to do more in order to abide by the law they created, replacing a school bus after it turns 15 years old.
He says the money in the budget will come from different sources so it may take some time before seeing new buses on the road.
"Some of those sources like lottery funding come in at different times, so we don't know how much we will receive at the end of the budget year or when we will receive it."
Rena Hutcherson's nine year old daughter rides on one of those outdated buses.
"I don't know how old it is but this year alone her bus broke down maybe 10 times," said Hutcherson.
Just to give you a snapshot of the outdated buses in Midlands school districts
Lexington District One has 177 buses in their fleet; 115 are older than 15 years.
In Sumter they have 164 buses; 72 are outdated. And in Orangeburg District Five they have 66 buses with 34 of them 15 years or older.
Hutcherson says she is shocked by those numbers.
"It makes me feel terrible because the only thing I can think about is she is on the way home, the bus breaks down, no air and she is sitting there in the heat."
Ragley says with the new funds each district should get at least one bus. He believes major progress will start when lawmakers put more funds into school transportation.
"They have yet to fund a replacement cycle since it was implemented. The only time they did was the first time back in 2007 so if we are going to get on the path of replacing busses we are going to do more next year," said Ragley.
He says lawmakers would need to set aside $34 million dollars every year to make a major dent in the outdated buses.