New buses coming to Hillsborough County schools - WFLA News Channel 8

New buses coming to Hillsborough County schools

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The Hillsborough County School District will be getting new buses.

Where the money will come from, and how many buses the district will get, remains under discussion.

On Wednesday, Tom Platt with School Bus Consultants presented his report to the school board, superintendent MaryEllen Elia, and other school officials.

"I emphasize at this point, the fleet is safe, the fleet is operating," said Platt. "But, and the big 'but' is: your fleet is old."

The report shows 25 percent of the district's fleet is 15 years old. The maximum bus age should be 12-15 years old.

Platt says there are also issues in the transportation department with maintenance and morale.

"The staffing shortages in conjunction with the aging fleet are the dominant contributing factors," said Platt.

Superintendent Elia says she is pleased with the report's findings and believes buying buses to replace the aging fleet is in order.

"We need to buy buses. That's a huge deal. It's important for us to do that," said Elia. "But I think most importantly, I think you all heard, our consultant indicated that we have safe buses in this district."

School board member April Griffin has been critical of the transportation department after a number of employees contacted her with complaints. She disagrees with the consultant's assessment of the fleet.

"When buses are spontaneously combusting, and we're having to offload children in an emergency scenario, and buses are out on the road and brakes aren't working, our children aren't safe," said Griffin. "Our bus drivers aren't safe, and people on the road aren't safe."

Several parents dropping their children off at a bus stop in Westchase say they are comfortable with the district and its busing.

"I think in all of the 16 years of putting my children on the bus, I think we had two incidents over sixteen years," said Chip Sayre. "So I don't have any concerns."

School board members are scheduled to attend a workshop on the transportation department situation next week.

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