Local News

Cumberland County Looks To Increase Security After Recent School Bus Fires

Posted January 4, 2005 8:10 a.m. EST

— Cumberland County had seen its share of school bus fires in recent months -- three at Manchester Elementary in Spring Lake and two at Spring Lake Middle. Officials want something to be done to prevent any more fires.

Philip Mullen, transportation director for Cumberland County schools, said officials are considering more security measures such as more surveillance cameras, better lighting and a fenced-in parking lot.

"For us, it is very frustrating when you get a call at 1:30 in the morning. They tell you they got three, four buses burning to the ground and school is the next day," he said.

Cumberland County has to repair two burned buses and replace four. Each new bus costs more than $60,000 of taxpayer money.

"You actually holding up kids from getting an education. They got a lot of other things in society going against them and, then, they can't get to school on time because you want to set the school bus on fire," parent Marcus Young said.

The school system is insured through the state, so it is not as easy as filing a claim and getting a check. Government officials need to find the funds.

"We don't have an insurance policy like you think. Your car is damaged. You call your insurance agent. That's not the way it works," Mullen said.

Last week, two activity buses were burned behind Cleveland Middle School in Johnston County. School officials said Monday that they have no plans to increase security where buses are parked. No one has been arrested in the case.