(a) The State Department of Education shall grant applications for apportionments for purposes of this article, to the extent that funds are available, according to the following priorities:
(1) First priority for apportionments shall be for the purchase of new schoolbuses to replace existing schoolbuses owned by an eligible district or county office that do not conform to federal safety standards.
(2) Second priority for apportionments shall be for the reconditioning of existing schoolbuses owned by an eligible district or county office. For purposes of this paragraph, "reconditioning" includes, but is not limited to, retrofitting schoolbuses to conform to the federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 222 relating to schoolbus passenger seating and crash protection requirements.
(3) Any remaining funds shall be apportioned for the purchase of new schoolbuses by eligible districts and county offices which have proposed to increase the number of schoolbuses owned by the district or county office.
(b) The governing board of any school district or county office of education with an average attendance of less than 2,501 in the current fiscal year shall be eligible to receive apportionments under this section for the replacement of schoolbuses with new schoolbuses.
(c) The State Department of Education shall develop priority categories for funding under this section which are based solely on vehicle age and mileage. Seventy-five percent of the funds available in any fiscal year for the purposes of this section shall be distributed to school districts and county offices of education based upon priority categories which utilize only vehicle age, mileage, and type of vehicle. Twenty-five percent of the funds available in any fiscal year for purposes of this section shall be allocated based upon the condition of the vehicles to be replaced. School districts and county offices of education shall submit as evidence of the condition of the vehicle to be replaced, the most recent California Highway Patrol inspection report, a repair estimate made by an independent repair shop, and any other information requested by the department.
(d) The State Department of Education shall estimate the cost of a replacement vehicle of the same capacity as the vehicle being replaced. A school district's or county office of education's entitlement shall equal the department's estimated cost. A district or county office may use additional district or county office funds to purchase a schoolbus which is more expensive than the model used by the department to estimate the cost.
(e) Funds allocated pursuant to this section shall not be used to purchase a vehicle which does not meet the schoolbus passenger seating and crash protection requirements of the federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 222.
(Amended by Stats. 1986, Ch. 11, Sec. 2.)