Busing in the Heat: Hot school buses anger parents

The heat hasn’t been kind in town for the past several days and probably won’t dwindle down anytime soon. On top of the heat being in full affect, so is school as children have started another year of learning.

Wednesday was back to school for Kingman Unified School District and as children came home from their first day of school, parents noticed their children were “soaked in sweat” and “coming home with issues from the heat.” Parents were concerned about the buses not having air conditioning.

“The bus has no AC and it’s 107 degrees out. She was crying and covered in sweat,” Lindsay Lee, a mother of a Cerbat Elementary student, said. “She was on that bus for 50 minutes.”

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After her first day of Kindergarten on Wednesday, Kira Lee, came home “soaked in sweat” after getting off the school bus with no air conditioning. (Photo courtesy of Lindsay Lee)

Roger Jacks, superintendent of Kingman Unified School District, did say, unfortunately, the buses don’t have air conditioning, but the 20 new ones that were purchased recently do have air conditioning.

“The buses that do have AC we use with the special needs students and for the long bus ride home routes,” Jacks said.

Sometimes the air conditioning systems aren’t very reliable on the older busses and need constant repair, but the district is trying to deal with the issue, Jacks said.

KUSD buses also have routes that go to Meadview, Chloride, and Wikieup. The district office has communicated to the schools to notify their students to stay hydrated and drink plenty of water during the day and ride home. Currently, 54 routes are operated, and 18 of them do not having air conditioning.

The Lee family did contact the school and received sympathy about the issue. However, they did say the supervisor at the bus barn “was not very helpful.” Lee also mentioned to the Daily Miner that the transportation supervisor, Tandy Janson, said “riding the bus is a privilege, not a right.”

Janson was contacted multiple times for comment but didn’t respond in time for press time.

“We do apologize for the bad situation and bad heat with no AC buses,” Jacks said. “Our goal for KUSD is to have all buses with AC that function and are reliable, but in reality we’re just not there yet.”

The state of Arizona won $59 million settlement from the Volkswagen lawsuit where vehicles that claimed to be “clean diesel,” marketed under VW, Audi, and Porsche, where actually letting out high levels of pollutants.

Gov. Doug Ducey said that with the settlement he intends to use more than half of the money to go towards replacing busses that are at least 15 years old and have more than 100,000 miles on them.

Ducey is also considering school districts that have 60 percent of its students coming from low-income families qualifying them for free and reduce lunch, but he is considering counties which are at a risk of violating federal air qualities.

Jacks says, KUSD qualifies under the free and reduced lunch category, so he’s hopeful that the district will get new buses from the settlement money.