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wall, I think everybody’s going to do it,” Carroll observed. “But they don’t think about the end result a lot of times. Tat’s when I have to go to my board. Tey need me to save money, so that’s going to mean not replacing equipment, not hiring as many drivers.” Carroll said a lack of state funding in California does not


help. “All of these extra expenses, encumbrances we’re seeing, equate to less buses on the road as more and more districts are eliminating school transportation.” Vits countered that many districts accept increased purchase prices linked to GPS or clean energy technology, so using cost as an argument against lap-shoulder belts is a merely an excuse to oppose the occupant restraint system. Robert Downin, operations director of Clark-Pleasant Community Schools in Indiana, is an enthusiastic supporter of lap-shoulder belts. Like Coburn, he previously worked for the Bartholomew district. But he doesn’t support mandates. “Tat may sound strange coming from me, but I’m not for laws like that,” Downin said. “Te government has a tendency to mandate things to us and then they don’t fund them. Tat would not be fair [especially] for schools that are smaller.”


BENEFITS Some say that lap-shoulder seat belts are increasingly im-


portant as schools use buses for more extracurricular travel, like field trips and sports competitions that involve long road trips. A fatal charter bus crash involving a Texas high school softball team helped sway legislators there to pass the state’s current law. “Tings have changed so much in the last 10 years, [major]


roadways are traveled much more, school buses travel longer distances, you have more traffic on the roadways,” and buses are traveling at higher speeds, said Coburn. Fayetteville, Arkansas, Public Schools, Assistant Transporta-


tion Director Michael McClure has purchased 10 buses with lap-shoulder belts and said he plans to transition the entire 56- bus fleet to the restraint systems. Under state law, if more than 10 percent of voters in a school district petition for a special millage vote to fund school bus seat belts, then a measure must be placed on the ballot and a special levy may be instituted. McClure said he is not sure if that will ever happen, but he added that district leaders are “innovators” eager to volun- tarily get lap-shoulder belts on buses. He said he is especially pleased they were able to order a “flex” system that allows two


48 School Transportation News • MAY 2018


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