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Fulton School District transportation department officials announced achievements and the purchase of new vehicles at Wednesday's school board meeting.

Jacque Cowherd, superintendent of Fulton Public Schools, said the district's transportation department received a surprise visit from state transportation officials earlier this month.

"On Oct. 4, we had a surprise inspection of some of our buses," he said. "Of five buses inspected, all five passed 100 percent."

Having dealt with two lightning strikes to the department's offices this year alone, District Transportation Director Bryan Abbot said he was thrilled with the inspection results. The impromptu bus inspections were in addition to the scheduled annual inspection.

"That inspection is the one that's really important," Abbot said. "This one, they show up, and if they see things wrong, they inspect the whole fleet. If they only end up inspecting five, it's a good thing."

Cowherd also motioned to purchase a new passenger van and cargo van for the transportation department.

"We did not buy a new bus this year," he said. "However, we've always encountered transporting one or two children to smaller events. Ford came out with a 10-passenger van that looked good to us."

Abbot said for smaller events, the district was often required to send an entire school bus to transport fewer than 10 students.

"A lot of schools are using a 10-passenger van for these trips," he said. "I think we'll get a lot of use out of them. It drives me crazy to send a whole bus to transport a few students. I think the new vans make sense all around."

The board approved the purchase of the vans, and Abbot said he plans to make sure the van is decked out in Fulton gear.

"Hopefully the FabLab can put some logos on it," he said. "Regardless, we'll get some logos on it so people know who we are."

The new vans come at a difficult time for state funding concerning transportation, Cowherd said.

"Transportation is supposed to be funded 75 percent," he said. "They've been funding about 38 percent, and that number can go down. The state department is pushing hard for the Legislature to make transportation a priority."

In addition to the flawless inspections and new vehicles, drivers will also notice a difference in their commute to McIntire Elementary School and Fulton Middle School, Cowherd said. In conjunction with the city of Fulton, the elementary parking lot and streets near the middle school were recently paved.

Parents have indeed noticed a difference, school board member Todd Gray said.

"As a parent, the parking lot at McIntire was huge," he said. "It's a night and day difference when it comes to parking."

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