School bus conversions can create new space for special projects
- Some school districts are repurposing their older school buses and converting them into a variety of new resources including makerspaces, bookmobiles and traveling cafés, District Administration reports.
- The Cheatham County Schools in Ashland, TN, for example, polled staff and community members about possible uses of three buses and received several creative ideas, while the Jefferson County Public Schools in Louisville, KY, is already using one bus for STEM activities such as coding, robotics and engineering, and converted another into a mobile registration center.
- Traveling bus cafés are another popular option. These buses, which are used in summer feeding programs, usually cost between $55,000 and $60,000 to retrofit, but can serve thousands of meals paid for by the National School Lunch program and provide a way to connect schools and the community.
School buses are a large expense for school districts, but do not usually bring in much money when they become surplus property at the end of their usefulness as daily transportation. However, more school districts are seeing these resources as the answer to school district and community needs and showing creativity with some of their conversions. School buses have been turned into makerspaces and STEM or STEAM buses to feed the curiosity of students. Some have been converted into art spaces, and others have been converted into nutrition sites to feed students.
These vehicles can also be used to serve the needs of the larger community. In Conetoe, N.C., students can learn bee-keeping skills on the “bee bus.” School buses can also be converted into bookmobiles, sources of Internet connectivity and adult learning centers. Though it still takes money to convert buses, these are great projects for high school students to tackle with adult supervision. They could decide how the bus should be used, raise money for the conversion and take charge of the project themselves. A college student recently converted a school bus into a home with an investment of $9,000, including the cost of the bus, so the idea may not be that far-fetched.
If schools do decide to sell school buses, they may get more money if they market the buses as conversion projects, rather than just placing them up for public auction. With all the interest in tiny houses, school buses may become prime real estate in the future.
- District Administration Districts give new life to old school buses