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Melody Coniglio, president of the Ohio Association


for Pupil Transportation, told School Transportation News it is up to each local school district to decide if it wants to implement seatbelts or not. She added that the legislature isn’t considering a law at this point.


Big Sky Perspective While Helena Public Schools in Montana adopted


three-point seatbelts in 2012, other school districts in the state were hesitant to make the transition. Howev- er, several districts now have the occupant restraints. Missoula County Public Schools retrofitted 30 school buses and purchased seven new buses with lap/shoul- der seatbelts prior to the new school year. “I think that this has been an ongoing conversation in


Montana and among school districts,” said Pat McHugh, executive director of business and operations at Mis- soula County Public Schools. “I think that the resistance does relate to cost and does relate to what people believe to be the risk. I think that nationwide, this conversation has been evolving. We just felt it was really important from the safety of the student’s standpoint.” McHugh said it cost $8,400 per new bus to add the


lap/shoulder belts. The price tag increased to $11,700 per bus to perform retrofits. Currently, the school district has 72 Type C school buses that it uses on regular education routes, 37 of which now have the seatbelts. McHugh said seven or eight new school buses will be purchased with seatbelts each year over the next five years, in order to phase out the remaining buses that weren’t able to be retrofitted. Mark Thane, the previous superintendent of the school district, fast-tracked this process ahead of his retirement on July 1. He said that it took the district less than six months to implement the lap/shoulder seat- belts in time for this school year. Thane said that what got Missoula County’s atten-


tion was the PBS Documentary “Safe Enough?” that was produced by journalist Anna D. Rau last fall. The award-winning documentary follows the story of 7-year-old Sarah Fark, who was killed in 2008 after be- ing ejected from her Huntley Project Schools bus when it was involved in a side-impact collision. “After reviewing that, which included footage of actual


side-impact collisions, you can see how the kids were essentially becoming projectiles. They were moving around, and there were ejections out of windows,” Thane recounted. “We realized that it was incumbent on us to work to achieve a higher degree of safety.” After viewing the documentary, Thane called his


transportation director and business manager to watch the film together. Unanimously, he recalled, their opin-


845.988.2333 SEE US AT BOOTH 300 www.stnonline.com 31


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