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BOE receives A+ bus grade

By By Kerry Whipple-Bean
In 2003, with education budgets across the state suffering cuts from proration, state officials told the Escambia County School Board it did not have enough certified mechanics to keep school buses safe.
This year – three years after a 10-mill property tax increase boosted funds for schools – the school district received a perfect grade on its school bus inspection report.
"If you want a direct result of the 10-mill tax – and the 4-mill tax up for renewal – that's it," Superintendent Billy Hines told school board members Thursday.
Later, the school board unanimously approved a resolution supporting a September special election on the 4-mill tax renewal, which would benefit both county and Brewton city schools.
Hines praised bus fleet supervisors Larry Davis and Bill West and their team.
"We're proud of our mechanics and our drivers and our fleet," Hines said.
The state bus inspector found no major deficiencies in the county's fleet of 92 buses. The state strives for no more than 24 percent of major deficiencies in any school system's bus fleet.
"This was a very good inspection," wrote Joe Lightsey, administrator of pupil transportation for the state department of education, in a letter to Hines.
The state inspector looked at braking, exhaust, steering, signaling systems, tires and other safety items on each bus in the fleet.
County commissioners are expected to decide soon whether to schedule a special election on the 4-mill tax renewal for schools.
After calling for a vote on the resolution Thursday, school board Chairman Mike Goolsby said, "The motion passes – and hopefully the tax does."
In other business Thursday, the school board: