St. Charles schoolbuses about to get cooler

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 5, 2008


Staff Reporter

LULING – It’s always been cool to stay in school, but it’s about to become even cooler to ride the bus in St. Charles Parish.

The St. Charles Parish School Board has approved plans to retrofit nine Head Start school buses with air conditioning. The board will begin accepting bids for the retrofitting Aug. 15, two days after school starts, and plans to have the buses ready to go by January. St. Charles school buses currently have heaters but no air conditioning.  

The Head Start buses were chosen for the first retrofitting because they carry four-year-olds and have some of the longer routes in the parish. Gary Martin, transportation operations coordinator for SCPPS, said some of the routes are “close to an hour.”

The board had been considering different measures to combat the high temperatures that have been recorded in the buses on hot summer days. Many of the parish’s 147 buses already feature tinted windows and white roofs designed to reflect heat.

There was some discussion of extending those features to buses that lack them, but that was ruled out when the board decided it wouldn’t be worth the cost. Martin said the cost would probably be somewhere between $7,000 and $11,000 to retrofit each bus.

Board President John Smith, at a board meeting last month, pushed for retrofitting the entire fleet. But it was later determined that it would not be feasible to retrofit the whole fleet before the start of the school year.

School Board officials said they would take a wait-and-see approach until the first nine buses are finished before deciding on a course of action for the rest of the buses.