Parents worry about buses without air conditioning, SC Department of Education working to find solutions

Published: Aug. 24, 2019 at 9:49 AM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - As kids across the Midlands go back to school this week, many are riding on buses without air conditioning.

Data from the South Carolina Department of Education shows that over 35% of buses across the state still don’t have air conditioning. Parents and bus drivers in different school districts are upset by the lack of air conditioning in the heat. One Lexington School District One bus driver said that his bus doesn’t even have a fan.

“I was very upset and very angry,” Amber Jones, a parent in Lexington-Richland Five said. “Just to know that my child and all the other children are riding on a school bus since school lets out, and it’s 90 to 100 degrees outside and those children have no air-conditioning.”

Jones said their stop is last. So, her son rides the bus for over an hour in the afternoon.

“To me, anything could happen -- heatstroke, kids could pass out, the bus drivers could have a heat stroke or pass out,” Jones said.

Officials with Lexington-Richland School District 5 reported nearly 40% of school buses don’t have air conditioning. The South Carolina Department of Education, who provides the buses to every district, said it’s been working to reduce that number.

“The state has done a real good job of replacing buses across the state,” Bill Kurts, the Lexington One School District Director of Transportation, said. “I believe they’ve replaced about 3,000 buses over the last three years.”

In 2016, 66% of buses in the state didn’t have air conditioning. The number has been reduced to 37% this year. However, nearly 2,000 buses lack cool air while kids are riding home from school.

Jones said that she also feels bad for the bus drivers.

“They are the ones that are transporting our kids to and from school and they are having to sit there all day long in the bus with no AC,” Jones said.

Kurts said that, if a bus driver doesn’t have a fan, the state will install one once they are notified. Kurts also said that the district is getting 22 new buses this year, replacing older ones that don’t have air conditioning.

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