115C-249. Purchase and maintenance of school buses, materials and supplies.

(a) To the extent that the funds shall be made available to it for such purpose, a local board of education is authorized to purchase from time to time such additional school buses and service vehicles or replacements for school buses and service vehicles, as may be deemed by such board to be necessary for the safe and efficient transportation of pupils enrolled in the schools within such local school administrative unit. Any school bus so purchased shall be constructed and equipped as prescribed by the provisions of this Article and by the regulations of the State Board of Education issued pursuant thereto. Any school bus so purchased that is capable of operating on diesel fuel shall be capable of operating on diesel fuel with a minimum biodiesel concentration of B-20, as defined in G.S. 143-58.4. At least two percent (2%) of the total volume of fuel purchased annually by local school districts statewide for use in school bus diesel engine motor vehicles shall be biodiesel fuel of a minimum blend of B-20, to the extent that biodiesel blend is available and compatible with the technology of the vehicles or equipment used.

(b) The tax-levying authorities of any county are hereby authorized to make provision from time to time in the capital outlay budget of the county for the purchase of such school buses or service vehicles.

(c) Any funds appropriated from time to time by the General Assembly for the purchase of school buses or service vehicles shall be allocated by the State Board of Education to the respective local boards of education in accordance with the requirements of such boards as determined by the State Board of Education, and thereupon shall be paid over to the respective local boards of education in accordance with such allocation.

(c1) In determining which school buses in the statewide fleet are to be replaced with State funds in a given year, the State Board of Education shall give highest priority to safety concerns.

A bus is eligible for replacement with State funds based on its age and mileage when it is either 20 years old by model year or has been operated for 250,000 miles, except as follows:

(1) A bus that has been operated for less than 150,000 miles is not eligible for replacement regardless of its model year.

(2) A bus that is less than 15 years old by model year is not eligible for replacement until the bus has been operated for 300,000 miles.

(c2) The State Board of Education may authorize the replacement of up to 30 buses each year due to safety concerns regarding the bus or mechanical or structural problems that would place an undue burden on a local school administrative unit.

(c3) A local school administrative unit shall receive an incentive payment of two thousand dollars ($2,000) at the beginning of each school year for each bus that it continues to operate although the bus is eligible for replacement, until the bus is 23 years old by model year. The local school administrative unit may use these bonus funds for the additional maintenance costs of operating buses with higher mileage or for any other school purpose.

(d) The title to any additional or replacement school bus or service vehicle purchased pursuant to the provisions of this section, shall be taken in the name of the board of education of such local school administrative unit, and such bus shall in all respects be maintained and operated pursuant to the provisions of this Article in the same manner as any other public school bus.

(e) It shall be the duty of the county board of education to provide adequate buildings and equipment for the storage and maintenance of all school buses and service vehicles owned or operated by the board of education of any local school administrative unit in such county. It shall be the duty of the tax-levying authorities of such county to provide in its capital outlay budget for the construction or acquisition of such buildings and equipment as may be required for this purpose.

(f) In the event of the damage or destruction of any school bus or service vehicle by fire, collision, or otherwise, the board of education of the local school administrative unit which shall own or operate such bus or service vehicle may apply to the State Board of Education for funds with which to replace it. If the State Board of Education finds that such bus or service vehicle has been destroyed or damaged to the extent that it cannot be made suitable for further use, and if the State Board of Education finds that the replacement of such bus or service vehicle is necessary in order to enable such local school administrative unit to operate properly its school bus transportation system, the State Board of Education shall allot to the board of education of such local school administrative unit from the funds now held by the State Board of Education for the replacement of school buses or service vehicles, or from funds hereafter appropriated by the General Assembly for that purpose, a sum sufficient to purchase a new school bus or service vehicle to be used as a replacement for such damaged or destroyed bus or service vehicle and upon such allocation such sum shall be paid over to or for the account of the board of education of such local school administrative unit for such purpose.

(g) Repealed by Session Laws 2003-147, s. 3, effective for a local school administrative unit when the unit is certified as being E-Procurement compliant, or April 1, 2004, whichever occurs first.

(h) Appropriations by the General Assembly for the purchase of public school buses shall not revert to the General Fund. Any unexpended portion of those appropriations shall at the end of each fiscal year be transferred to a reserve account and be held, together with any other funds appropriated for the purpose, for the purchase of public school buses. (1955, c. 1372, art. 21, s. 9; 1961, c. 833, s. 16; 1975, c. 879, s. 46; 1981, c. 423, s. 1; 1987, c. 827, s. 49; 1991 (Reg. Sess., 1992), c. 1039, s. 24; 2003-147, s. 3; 2004-203, s. 72(b); 2007-423, s. 2; 2013-360, s. 8.11(a).)