EDITOR'S NOTE: North Lamar ISD voters go to the polls May 1 to decide the fate of a $51.55 million bond election to improve academic facilities, purchase buses, improve technology and athletic facilities and add an addition to the high school for the fine arts program. The Paris News is taking a look at each of the five propositions on the ballot. This story is Part 4. Look for the final installment in next Sunday's edition of The Paris News.

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Roughly half of the students in North Lamar ISD travel to and from school on a worn-out fleet of buses, according to a district information campaign for a $51.55 million bond election May 1.

Seventy five percent of the bus fleet is approaching or past 10 years old, considered the useful life of a school bus, school officials said. Those vehicles cover roughly 428 square miles twice a day to and from North Lamar ISD campuses, traveling more than 477,254 miles per year.

To remedy the problem as early as next school year, voters will be asked to pass Proposition B - Transportation for $1.8 million in the $51.55 million referendum that also asks for $43.7 million for academics, $405,000 for technology, $2.075 for athletics and $4.2 million for fine arts.

In a report to North Lamar trustees at a January meeting, former Lamar County Commissioner Alan Weatherford and parent of two North Lamar High School graduates, talked about the need for new buses followed by a regular replacement schedule of two to three buses each year.

“Fifteen out of our 22 regular route buses have more than 100,000 miles on them, and over the last five years there have been no new buses bought,” Weatherford said. “I know in the past the district tried to buy about three buses a year, so we are about 15 buses short that we have not bought, and that’s why we are in the shape we are in.”

Earlier this year trustees voted to buy five new buses. Trustees agreed to an immediate lease/purchase of the buses at a yearly cost of $171,000 for three years.

“If this bond passes, you can pay off those five buses and be able to buy 10 more,” Weatherford said, adding that substitute buses now in service are 2000 and 2002 models and can be replaced with more recent models once new buses are in service. “We need two more routes, but do not have dependable buses to put on those routes.

To be eligible to cast a ballot in the May 1 election, voters must live in the district. Early voting, from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. begins April 19 and ends April 27 in four locations with weekend voting available from 1 to 4 p.m. April 24 and April 25. Early voting is to take place at the Roy C. Chadwick Administration Building, 3130 N. Main St. in Paris, Aaron Parker Elementary, 98 CR 44112 in Powderly, Direct Volunteer Fire Department, 20317 FM 79 in Sumner and Reno City Hall, 160 Blackburn St. Election day voting will be at the administration building.

Mary Madewell is a staff writer for The Paris News. She can be reached at 903-785-6976 or at mary.madewell@theparisnews.com.

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