Members of the Van Buren School Board voted Tuesday night to purchase five new buses to continue the district’s plan to update its once aging bus fleet.

The board will take advantage of an Environmental Protection Agency program to buy the five buses for less than the $375,000 which had been budgeted to purchase three buses.

Superintendent Dr. Harold Jeffcoat said the EPA program was discovered by Mike Allen, director of transportation and custodian services for the VBSD.

Jeffcoat said it allows districts with buses more than 20 years old to scrap up to five buses and receive a 35 percent discount on new buses.

Midwest Bus Sales in Van Buren was allowed to select two districts to work with and chose VBSD as one of them, Jeffcoat said.

The district will buy five 77-passenger buses for $293,305.

“These will meet our needs and be easier to maneuver on Van Buren streets,” Jeffcoat said. “We have plenty of the 84-passenger buses for our school trips.”

Van Buren School District has allocated resources to improve its transportation department by securing several new buses. Over the course of two years, the district has added 13 new buses to its aging fleet.

Jeffcoat also told the board the renovation of the high school cafeteria has been put on hold after bids for the project came in higher than expected. The project had been estimated at between $250,000 and $300,000; however, bids were in the $400,000 range.

The district is working with Nabholz Construction, the construction management firm for the VBSD’s new elementary school, to lower the cost.

“We are considering packaging the project with the elementary school bidding process in February or March,” Jeffcoat said. “This would make it a summer project and less intrusive.”

The planned renovation will result in different stations, so that students can find exactly what they want for lunch that day.

The planned renovation is designed to provide students more options and more efficient service. Prepackaged options will be offered for those needing to grab food and go. More check-out lines will also be added.

The board also:

• Approved the low bid of $579,091 from Canon Solutions of Little Rock to lease and maintain 56 copy machines for the district over a five-year period.

• Hired Taylor Tounzen as a classroom teacher at Northridge Middle School, Magdalena Palacios as a migrant aide at Butterfield Trail Middle School and Jocelyn Sandoval as a migrant aide at King Elementary School.

• Approved the resignations of Britt Mounce as a classroom teacher at Van Buren High School, Phyllis (Diane) Beckham as cafeteria manager at Butterfield, Whitney Black as a preschool aide at King, Willie Holbrook as a cook at Central Elementary School and Rustin McCormick as a trip driver for the district.