(a) Notwithstanding any other provision, 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 or county offices which have proposed to increase the number of schoolbuses owned by the district or county office of education.
(4) In awarding grants, in accordance with the priorities established by paragraphs (1), (2), and (3), the State Department of Education shall give priority to eligible school districts with the smallest average daily attendance, as determined by the department.
(b) The governing board of any school district or county office of education shall be eligible to receive apportionments under this article for the replacement of schoolbuses.
(c) Any school district or county office of education receiving funds under this section shall be required to pay one-half of the estimated cost of a new schoolbus.
Each school district or county office shall also be required to contribute 50 percent of any proceeds from the sale of any schoolbus to be replaced with a new schoolbus purchased under this article.
(d) Insofar as possible, any purchases of new schoolbuses with funds apportioned pursuant to this article shall be made by the Department of General Services. Title to any schoolbus purchased by the Department of General Services pursuant to this section shall be in the name of the school district or county office of education for which the schoolbus was purchased.
(e) 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 that 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 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.
(f) 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's entitlement shall equal the department's estimated cost, less any contributions determined pursuant to this section. 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.
(g) 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. 1996, Ch. 204, Sec. 11.)