ABBEVILLE — The Vermilion Parish School Board voted unanimously Thursday to purchase seven new buses at a cost of $534,688.

Funding comes from the 1996 millage and the buses will be purchased from Kent-Mitchell Bus Sales and Service LLC, the lowest bidder to meet specification requirements on the vehicles.

According to the bid sheet, six of the buses cost $74,506 each with an seventh costing $87,652.

Transportation Supervisor Lonnie Richard said the more expensive vehicle carried both special needs and regular students from Pecan Island to Forked Island and required an air conditioner and wheelchair lift.

All of the buses also meet new safety requirements, raising the seats 4 inches and, as a result, are equipped with four security cameras rather than one.

“Beginning three years ago, each bus only had one camera in the front to monitor students,” Richard said.

“With the new seat requirement, buses are now required to have four cameras to cover all the seats, and I absolutely like it (as a security measure). The kids know the cameras are on the buses and the eyes in the sky do not lie.”

He said the buses will be added to a fleet that has taken on several new buses annually for the last few years.

In 2010, seven new buses were added to the fleet and that number will at least be matched this school year.

The buses are already on order and expected to be delivered in December or January.