Several counties across the Tennessee Valley lack school buses with A/C, see where your district stands

WAFF 48's D'Quan Lee reporting
Published: Aug. 25, 2023 at 7:01 PM CDT

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - In school districts across the Tennessee Valley, not every bus fleet is built to handle the heat.

These are counties with the lowest percentage of air-conditioned buses.

In Cullman county, students will be happy to know things are about to get better.

“If we can put them on a bus that has additional safety features, that’s an air conditioned space where they’re not having to worry about their asthma or whatever condition they may have, then we can get them to school,” said Superintendent Dr. Shane Barnette. “We feel like they can learn better and achieve more. And that’s the ultimate goal.”

Barnette says his district spent more than six million dollars for 51 new buses, all equipped with AC. In the past, only students with special needs had buses with AC.

“Our most severe special needs students ride special buses and some of them are in harnesses and some of them are in wheelchairs and things on that bus,” said Barnett. “And if they’re having to be harnessed into a wheelchair or something, we feel like -- we’ve always felt like -- they needed to have air conditioning on those buses.”

Chad Carpenter with the Alabama Department of Education says not every school district will get new buses that quickly.

He says the base price for a school bus is $100,00 each but there are programs out there that can help these districts.

“We have a fleet renewal program where the state helps fund the purchase of new buses and that fleet renewal program -- the amount of money that each system gets per buses on route is based on the cost of a basic bus that meets our minimum specifications,” said Carpenter.

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