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Lowndes buses bursting at the seams

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August 22, 2002
by Ashley Harper

Valdosta - Cheryl Peterson sends her daughter to school every day thinking she's in safe hands. But recently, Cheryl's daughter told her something that changed that sense of security.

"She said that from Pine Grove Elementary to Hahira Middle School, kids are having to stand in the aisles of the school bus, because they have no where to sit," said Peterson.

Cheryl is only one of many concerned parents whose children have been left without a seat on Lowndes County school buses.

"There was a five-year-old child who was standing in the aisle when the bus came to a sudden stop, and someone else had to grab him to keep him from falling," said Peterson.

The Lowndes County School's Transportation office has received several calls from concerned parents like Cheryl. They say they've been working to resolve this problem since the beginning of the school year.

"We monitored the number of students on the bus and have figured out that the problem is students aren't riding the bus they're supposed to," said Billy Mortonson, Transportation Director. "They're probably riding with their friends, and this has made the numbers uneven again."

Most school buses have a carrying capacity of 66 students. But the government says if needed, they can carry up to 20 percent more.

Cheryl Peterson says that is just wrong. "They shouldn't even leave the parking lot without every child being seated, because it's just not safe..."

The Transportation Office has added another school bus, and hopes this will remedy the problem. They're also monitoring the number of students riding each bus.

"We're going to go up and make separations again, and make rosters for the bus drivers, to make sure the kids are riding buses they need to be riding," said Mortonson.

It may take more funding to provide more school buses, but the Transportation Office is determined to do whatever it takes to assure all students a seat on the bus, and a safe ride to school.

posted at 3:30PM by Ashley Harper