Students in Huntsville will have air conditioning and Wi-Fi in their school buses beginning next school year.
The Huntsville City School board approved a new five-year contract worth $11 million per year with Apple Bus Company at the board meeting Thursday night.
The new rate specified in the contract is slightly higher than what the district pays now. The district's current bus company, Durham School Services, has clashed with parents and the school system throughout the current contract.
Starting in the 2018-19 school year, there will be 180 buses, 160 of which will be new.
Each bus will have air conditioning, Wi-Fi, and four cameras.
Parents will be able to track their students' bus routes by downloading an app.
Company leaders said the biggest challenge currently is finding and retaining drivers. WAAY 31 learned from the district that another requirement of the new contract was to have bus drivers paid $20 per hour -- which is a big increase from the current hourly rate of $15.
School board officials said they believe a higher wage will lead to more qualified drivers.
Ferrell said a handful of vendors submitted bids for the contract, and that the director of operations presented the board with the top choice.