DOTHAN, Ala. (WDHN) — With heat advisories issued lately, some school officials asked parents to make sure you have an extra bottle of water for your children while they’re on the school bus to help alleviate heat exhaustion.
Houston County school buses do have heat, but currently, none of them have air conditioning. Educators plan to address the issue.
“Last spring, we started discussing this with the Alabama Education Association and some of the representatives,” Assistant Principal Brandy White said. “The representatives were open to the idea and actually, they alloted certain money from the advancement technology fund and I think we received $1.7 million dollars. They didn’t mandate that it be split on air conditioning, but that could have been an option for us.”
“We let the windows down, open the air vents in the top so we’ll get maximum airflow,” said Williams Towns, a Houston County School Bus Driver. “The air conditioning would surely be nice and I’m sure that would be better for the kids and the drivers. That again is up to the officials to decide that.”
With the lack of A/C in school buses, some Houston County parents said that’s not enough.
Jessica Granger is just one of those concerned parents. Granger’s son is a first-grader at Cottonwood Elementary and her son, Remington, came home suffering from heat exhaustion symptoms including vomiting and a headache.
“Severe dizziness, his clothes were drenched, headache, throwing up, it should be mandatory. I was told yesterday it’s only a state requirement for air conditioning to be on the special needs buses, but every child needs to be considered,” Granger said.
According to White, it would take roughly $10,000 dollars per bus to equip each vehicle with air conditioning. Considering there are some 90 Houston County school buses, you’re looking at close to nearly one million dollars to ensure our children are kept cool.
“You know we’ve talked about passing out waters, but we have to look at the functionality of what we’d be looking at 3,500 to 4,000 bottles of water per day,” White said. “We would have to figure a way to keep the water cool. That sounds good for one or two days, but if the heatwave continues, you know what’s the plan and who’s going to deliver all of the water so there are some logistics that we have to consider when we talk about doing that.”
The Houston County School System currently has not had a transportation director since December.