STEINER RANCH, Texas — After many parents came to KVUE with concerns over temperatures on Leander ISD school buses, school leaders on Thursday discussed the issue, agreeing that from now on the district will only purchase buses that already have air conditioning.
The district said they currently have 253 buses, and 180 of those don't have AC. The board on Thursday discussed how much it would cost to get buses with AC, as well as how much it would cost to add AC to buses it already has.
Saturday morning, Leander ISD announced 126 route busses will have air conditioning by Summer 2019. Leaders approved an $8.1 million plan to expedite the purchase of 50 new buses and the retrofit of 60 existing buses.
With temperatures regularly over 100 degrees, students riding on buses have been dealing with extreme heat. Parents have sent KVUE photos of thermometers reaching upwards of 117 degrees.
"No air conditioning on a bus, hour-long commutes? Of course, you worry about that and you worry about whether or not they're going to sustain some sort of heat-related injury," said Gary Starzmann, a parent of two students at Vandergrift High School.
Starzmann said that his son's bus took more than an hour to get him home from school. He even called his parents, asking to be picked up with water cause the bus was so hot.
"When I met him at the bus stop and kids were coming out of the bus panting, one of the girls down the street said 'hey can you give me a ride back home'," said Starzmann "That ride consisting of about a eighth of a mile, but I had an air conditioned car, I said 'yea, of course, get in the car.' You know that's an issue."
Both Starzmann and Leander ISD believe the main problem comes from the one road responsible for all traffic in and out of the school.
Corey Ryan, a Leander ISD spokesman, said that the district is aware of the problem and has tried to build a new road but can't. On top of that, the issue of retrofitting buses with A/C is costly.
"Being able to balance all that is an ongoing debate and discussion within our community and we're here to represent and serve the school," said Ryan. "Unfortunately, it's dealing with a finite amount of resources to do so."
"I would not be comfortable riding on a bus with 30-40 of my best friends for what could be an hour commute," Starzmann said.
Starzmann hopes something can be done soon to help ease the problems of kids in the heat.