RALEIGH, N.C. — By the time kids in year-round schools get on the bus for their ride home, the temperature will likely be much higher than on their way to school. A Wake County parent is worried about the health of her kids on buses that do not have air conditioning, but officials with the school system said there is not much they can do.
Trish Ragsdale has a 7-year-old boy and 12-year-old boy who attend year-round school. Because year-round schools are so spread out around Wake County, their bus ride lasts 1 hour. Ragsdale said the heat is wearing them out.
"They'll come home and they're real tired. They're real hot. Sometimes, they say they're sick to their stomaches," she said.
The limited number of air-conditioned buses Wake County has are replacements for buses that wore out. Right now, they are reserved for special-needs students.
"Last year, we had only 20 air-conditioned buses. Starting in 2002 in the state, all replacement buses will be air-conditioned," said Wake County school transportation manager Charles Burrell.
Wake County is slated to receive 20 replacement air-conditioned buses. Ragsdale said she thinks year-round schools ought to get them.
"These children need some kind of air on the bus because I wonder if they're getting some kind of heat exhaustion at times," she said.
Burrell said that can only happen if a bus at a year-round school is worn out and needs to be replaced.
"We base it on where the bus is replaced from. On some cases, we do switch buses because of overcrowding," he said. "There's no way we can assign a bus to a year-round school because we have several year-round schools and how would be allocate a particular bus to a particular school? We can't do it that way."
Burrell said drivers are keeping the windows down and are encouraging the kids to drink plenty of water. He said that is about all they can do right now since it will take 15 to 20 years before all the buses are air-conditioned.