Monday, November 23, 2015
UPDATE The Westport Board of Education tonight was told it would cost $630,000 to add three-point seat belts to the district’s 41 school buses.
The board asked for more information about the issue and put off any action until a future meeting.
The discussion about seat belts followed a memo to the board from Superintendent of Schools Elliott Landon. He said he was raising the issue in light of a recommendation for use of the belts by Mark Rosekind, administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
“Three-point seat belts, just like the ones installed on automobiles, are the preferred type of equipment for school buses,” he said in the memo and repeated to the board tonight.
Landon said he has long been unequivocally opposed to lap belts for school buses.
He said there was potential for physical damage to students across their torsos resulting from sudden stops and the potential to use the buckle for destructive purposes in one-to-one student interaction.
Landon said the $630,000 estimated cost to add three-point seat belts included $400,000 to retrofit 26 buses and $230,000 for 15 new buses in the district’s 41-bus fleet.
This did not include buses used for athletics and spare buses, he said.
Landon said he favored doing all buses at once in the interest of parity.
Member Mark Mathias, however, argued for adding three-point seat belts as new buses are acquired.
“We don’t have monitors on all buses,” he said, rejecting the notion that all buses had to be the same at once.
Member Paul Block said he favored doing all buses at once while member Brett Aronow said she wanted more information on the issue and also wanted to hear from parents.
Chair Michael Gordon asked Landon to provide the cost of installing lap seat belts, even though he was opposed to their use.
PTA Council Co-President Sue Calger said she favored installation of the belts all at once.
She said she had to drive a younger daughter to school at the start of the school year because she refused to ride the bus because it did not have seat belts.
Calger also said she followed the bus one day and videotaped her daughter and a couple of friends bouncing around on the bus seats. She sent a copy to the school principal as she sought stricter supervision on the bus.
“You could say I threw my own daughter under the bus,” she said with a smile.
Installation of seat belts on Westport school buses has been discussed on and off for at least 15 years, but no formal action has been taken.
Posted 11/23/15 at 04:50 PM Permalink
CommentsYou must have a Facebook account and be logged to this account (login/logout button above) to post comments. Comments are subject to our Comment Policy.
On average, 6 passengers per year are killed in school bus crashes in the entire United States (see http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2015/09/15/school-bus-safety-statistics/72318198/)
With this in mind, if $630,000 is available to be spent to enhance student safety it would seem that there are far better uses for this money. One thing that springs to mind would be to ensure that defibrillators are available at after-school sporting activities in the light of the near tragedy at Staples last month.