ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – The St. Johns County School District is moving forward with purchasing more school buses with air conditioning, with the end goal being a fully air-conditioned bus fleet.
The school board decided Tuesday at a workshop that it wants to pay an additional cost of $227,000 to buy 20 new school buses with air-conditioning systems already installed.
On top of those 20, the district will also soon begin to retrofit the buses it already owns with air-conditioning units, eventually having more than 200 buses with air conditioning.
The district currently has 58 buses with air conditioning out of its 171. Those 58 are ESE buses for students with disabilities. Add the 20 new general education buses (non-ESE) that will be bought, and 10 additional ESE buses the district recently bought, and that will soon bring the total of air-conditioned buses to 201.
The district plans to have the 30 new buses by the start of the 2019-20 school year.
This comes as the majority of buses throughout the state are now being bought with A/C already installed or are being retrofitted with A/C units.
Of the 18,874 school buses in Florida, 80 percent (15,135) are currently equipped with air conditioning.
Florida ranks sixth in the nation for volume of students transported aboard school buses daily, and with a subtropical climate, the district feels now is the right time to plan for all buses to eventually have air conditioning.
The district says there are many reasons to retrofit buses with new air-conditioning units:
- Safety and well-being of children aboard buses
- Safety and work conditions for school bus operators
- Increase utilization of school buses in support of the children on longer field trips as contract buses are often cost prohibitive
- Direct relationship between temperature and student behavior