Education has often been a hot topic, whether it’s in regard to the latest budget cuts, the newest testing requirements, or the confusing nature of the Common Core. One issue that is often under-addressed, though, is the problem of buses not having any air conditioning, especially in Southern states where temperatures can soar to head indexes above 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
In Lake County School District — near Orlando, Florida — several buses in the district still lack air conditioning. Now that school is starting back up, many students are stuck sitting for up to an hour in hot temperatures. According to the district’s spokesman, Chris Patton, 47 out of 330 buses lack air conditioning in the district. The issue is that, while new buses have air conditioning, older ones don’t — and the district can’t afford to replace these older buses just yet.
School board member Bill Mathias finds the issue concerning, and says that as a partial solution, bottled water is provided on these buses.
“They are going to try to get those buses on the shortest routes,” said Mathias in an interview with the Daily Commercial. It’s been pointed out, though, that even when the buses have air conditioning, the units often break down. Many parents have been concerned about the effect the heat can have on their children.
“My concern is you have asthmatic kids out there,” said one parent, who declined to be named out of fear of reprisal. “It will take a kid to die to get air conditioning in all these buses.”
“It’s been well-documented that worker production decreases as temperatures increase, restful sleep decreases, even shoppers don’t spend as much money in stores without air conditioning, so it stands to reason that in addition to the obvious health risks like asthma, heat stroke, etc, there is a real potential negative impact in the performance of the students subjected to these hot bus rides,” says Tom Casey, Owner of Climate Partners in Milford, CT.
A little ways north, in Jacksonville, Florida, the issues with a lack of air conditioning in buses has already made itself apparent. Two children have recently been hospitalized owing to heat exhaustion experienced on their Duval County, un-air conditioned bus.
Their mother, Jolene Carlton, says that her children were forced to sit on the bus for over an hour in the high heat. Her oldest daughter couldn’t stop throwing up, and had to receive an IV. Doctors said the girls were suffering from heat exhaustion.
“It’s not right, and it’s scary. … I put my children’s lives into their hands, and I feel like they fail,” said Carlton.