BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Picture after picture sent to AEA officials, all taken by bus drivers showing how hot it can get inside their school buses.
One sent in from Mobile reads 124 degrees. And another from Shelby County - 112 degrees. These pictures are part of a campaign by the Alabama Education Association.
“We want to bring attention to the legislators and the school district on the health hazard of these students riding these buses with that extreme temperature,” says Lamonica Harris with the Alabama Education Association.
They’re hoping a surplus in the state’s education fund of just under $200 million will be used to retrofit existing buses with A/C units or buy new buses with it built in. Bus drivers and parents have been asking for this for years, however...
“In education, there’s always a need, and the need has always focused on instructional materials and the classroom, but what about these children?” said Harris.
Special needs buses are federally mandated to have air conditioning. But Harris argues general education students are allowed to sit in 100 degree heat for sometimes more than an hour.
“This new generation of children, they come with so many health issues and we just want to make sure our children are protected at all times,” said Harris
Some districts are already heeding the call. Birmingham City Schools has air on more than 100 of their 123 buses. 18 of Bessemer’s 40 buses have air, while Fairfield and Midfield only have it on their special needs buses.
It costs about $11,000 to install air on an existing school bus, but Harris says it’s worth it.
“Because at the end of the day, it’s ultimately about transporting those children home safely,” Harris said.