Out-of-the-Box Uses for a Used School Bus

“One person’s trash is another person’s treasure” is an adage as old as time itself. It also holds true for used school buses, seeing as many people have converted them into something worthwhile. There are many out-of-the-box uses for a used school bus, but one of the best ones is an educational haven for students.

Why Use a Bus?

If you need a change of scenery or if a traditional setting isn’t engaging enough for you or your students, getting a classroom on wheels is an excellent solution. You can only do so much with the four walls of a traditional classroom, but converting an old school bus allows you to show your creativity—and a little cachet.

Because school buses have children’s safety in mind, you know they’re secure enough to take your class to and fro while you teach lessons. Furthermore, a school bus can take on thousands of pounds of cargo. Depending on what you want in your classroom, this extra necessary capacity can make for easier decisions—you won’t have to alter your creative vision that much. 

What Should You Buy?

If you’re interested in creating a mobile masterpiece, knowing the different types of buses you can purchase will help. When you think of school buses, the first thing that comes to mind is likely a vehicle that’s long, yellow, and boxy. Generally, the layout is the same for all school buses, but there are other designs to choose from, such as short or transit buses. They all have unique characteristics about them.

Therefore, the perfect selection depends on your concept. However, the larger the bus you choose, the more challenging storing it becomes. The size also limits the options for mechanics to give it proper maintenance because it may be too large to fit in their garages.

No matter what bus size you choose, though, the most important repair opportunity you need to investigate is rust. You should never buy a bus with a rust problem. You need a solid platform that can handle all the amenities you put on it, so steer clear of rusty buses. Unfortunately, finding a bus with zero rust is rare, but as long as there are only a few spots, it should be okay to purchase. You can sand away the rust, and the bus will look as good as new.

The Reconstruction

Now comes the fun part: the conversion! The first step of the process can relieve some of your stress, since you’ll get to break a bunch of stuff. Remove all the unique items that made it a school bus, such as the stop signs, decals, and crossing arms. When the destruction is complete, strip the interior of its seats, walls, floor, and ceiling. Doing this will paint a clearer picture of the condition of your bus. Any unforeseen rust will be evident once the bus is bare, advising you of the work you need to do before starting the transformation.

Now that the interior is ready, it’s time to show off your creativity. Measure the dimensions of the walls, windows, and ceiling to get a sense of what you’ll need to do. You only have a finite area inside the cabin, so your measurements must be accurate. Being precise is critical for making your classroom fully functional.

Once you’ve finished completing the measurements, the rest of the process is entirely up to you. You can paint the outside of the bus however you’d like. Other customizations include the following:

  • Storage area: Use the storage area designed for luggage to keep emergency equipment and other goods.
  • Backup camera: A backup camera lets you assess your surroundings and limit any unfortunate incidents. If you’re wary about operating a larger vehicle such as a bus, adjusting may take some time.
  • Plumbing: This is critical to making your classroom fully functional. You’ll need a freshwater pump and tank, gray water tank, filtration system, water heater, and toilet.

Classroom Amenities

You can now add the finishing touches by buying what you need to do to convert the bus into a classroom. Regardless of these suggestions, you’re in complete control of the revamping, so feel free to spruce things up however you please. 

Cubbies & Cabinets

In the confined space of a bus, staying organized is in everyone’s best interest. Plan on fitting compact cubbies and cabinets to store materials such as markers, toys, and paper. For additional storage, you can utilize the overhead compartments to place backpacks and other bulky items.


Since you’ve emptied the bus of its seating, you need to create a place where the children can sit and work. Shaping small benches inside the bus will make the most of your limited space. You can even make the benches hollow on the inside for additional storage.


The back wall of the bus is ideal for adding some racks as bookshelves. You can also add removable wallpaper to give it some flair.

Dry-Erase Board

Assuming you don’t want to write on the windows of the bus, you need somewhere to write your lessons. You can slide in a dry-erase board toward the front of the vehicle. A dry-erase board is also advantageous because it can prevent the children from disrupting the driver.

Class Size

Ideally, a class of five or six students keeps everyone safest and most comfortable. Indeed, a school bus can’t handle a class of dozens. But it’s more than suitable for a handful of students, making it a good option for private instructors or tutors. For example, Clark and Washoe Counties in Nevada boast a population density of only about 4.35 people per square mile, making it some of the most sparsely populated land in the contiguous United States. The people in outstate Nevada still deserve attention—especially the young people growing up in this arid, empty land.

With this in mind, community organizations in Nevada have purchased retired school buses and transformed them into mobile preschools that meet youngsters where they are. Early development and enrichment opportunities are critical to children getting ready for kindergarten, whether they’re growing up in bustling Brooklyn or the wide-open Nevada desert.

Converting a school bus can be tricky, but making a classroom on wheels is rewarding. Turning a bus into an immersive learning sanctuary is one of the out-of-the-box uses for a used school bus. For over 30 years, National Bus Sales has offered the best preowned school buses, so contact us to make your dreams come true.

Out-of-the-Box Uses for a Used School Bus

Eric Anderson

Eric Anderson Sales/Service Director National Bus Sales

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