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Amid excessive heat, Ascension Parish school bus drivers pleading for AC on buses

6 months 1 week 6 days ago Monday, August 14 2023 Aug 14, 2023 August 14, 2023 6:53 PM August 14, 2023 in News
Source: WBRZ

ASCENSION - As temperatures get hotter, school districts are floating the idea of putting air conditioning on buses. One group of drivers in Ascension Parish says the time to act is now. 

When temperatures reach 100 degrees, the internal temperature of a school bus can exceed 125 degrees. Some bus drivers told WBRZ on Monday that it's like driving an oven.

"The heat from the motor is coming in our faces and in our laps. And all of the small children sit in the front, pre-k, kindergarten. They're getting the majority of the heat also," one driver said. 

Some drivers have taken matters into their own hands to beat the heat. Rhonda Delaune, who has been a driver for Ascension Parish Schools since 2010, has designed her own air conditioner made from a bucket of ice and PVC pipe. 

"It helps a little," Delaune said. 

But it isn't enough. 

On Monday, a group of nearly 20 drivers met at a gas station on Airline Highway before their afternoon routes. They have one simple request: air conditioner on the buses. 

It's a request that the Ascension School Board Vice President Jared Bercegeay says could cost millions. In a post to Facebook, Bercegeay laid out the expenses for the school system to install AC on their fleet of about 300 buses, which would total $23 million. 

To the bus drivers who have to endure the heat, it's a worthy investment. 

"Ascension Parish is one of the top schools in the state. We make a lot of money. I don't know where the money comes from, but we have to find it," Delaune said. 

Ascension School Board President Taft Kleinpeter told WBRZ that the board will have a financial meeting Tuesday to discuss funding for the air conditioned buses. 

This is a developing story. 

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