New school buses are required to have seat belts

Posted at 6:58 PM, Sep 13, 2017
and last updated 2018-11-03 15:19:57-04

A new state law is forcing Central Texas school districts to make a tough decision.

Under the new law, all new school buses are required to have the three-point seat belts which could cost districts thousands of dollars. 

While some district have already added buses with seat belts, not all will be able to adjust to this new law. 

 According to the new state law, school districts across the state will be required to purchase school buses with seat belts installed. 

"I don't think anyone questions that seat belts are healthy and they save lives... that's not even the issue," Temple ISD Superintendent Robin Battershell said. 

The issue for most school districts in Central Texas is funding. 

"It is an unfunded mandate," Battershell added. 

"The Legislature passed a law ten years ago, that mandated school bus seat belts on all school buses, but it was contingent upon state legislature providing funding for all the school districts to get those seat belts on there because it's about eight or nine thousand dollars per bus to install those," Salado ISD Superintendent Michael Novotny said. 
Unless a school board passes a resolution stating they simply cannot afford the new seat belt buses, all will have to abide by the new law. Temple ISD is still deciding if they are going to pass a resolution or not. 

"We'll kind of wait to see if the Legislature will increase the transportation allotment the next legislative session... because that hasn't been increased since 1985. So, we're still operating the gas mileage or the cost per gallon that was existing in 1985," Battershell said. 

Salado and Waco school districts on the other hand...

"Even though it is a financial burden because we don't get enough funding or any additional funding for this, student safety is certainly our highest priority, so we decided we're gonna provide the seat belts on buses going forward," Novotny added.   

"Going forward, every school bus order that Waco ISD places will have three-point seat belts including the twelve buses that will be coming in with this year's order," David Gray, Waco ISD Transportation Director, said. 

Salado ISD bought a new school bus with seat belts over the summer... and say within the next twelve years, they will have all new buses with seat belts. 

Both Temple ISD and Salado ISD superintendents agreed the enforcement of children actually wearing the seat belts once they are installed, is a whole different story and issue to face. 

Copyright 2017 KXXV. All rights reserved.