CLAY COUNTY, Fla. – More Clay County students will soon be a bit cooler on their way to school.
The district plans to add air conditioning to all 240 of its school buses by the start of next school year.
Right now, 139 buses in Clay County have A/C. Over the next couple of months, 100 buses will be rolling into the county. Dozens will be prepared to be used right away. The end goal is for all 240 to have working A/C at the start of the 2020-2021 school year.
"A/C buses are very important, not only for the drivers because we are on there most likely longer than the children, but it creates a very safe environment for the students,” said Rhonda Bowers, who has been driving buses for Clay County for seven years.
For Bowers, the new look and new feel are a welcome sight. With the A/C units located in the front and back, parents can rest assured students will have a safe and comfy ride.
"I don’t like seeing them sweat. I think it’s important for the young ones, the little kindergartners and first grade because they get hot and go to sleep,” Bowers said.
The changes have been a while in coming. Over the last three years, the district says the number of buses with A/C moved from 30% to 60%.
In addition to the A/C units, the new buses will also have five security cameras in the back and seat belts.
Clay County Schools Superintendent Addison Davis said the features are also great tools for bringing in and keeping new bus drivers.
"We will have the newest fleet in the state of Florida. It just signifies that we truly care and this is important to us,” Davis said. “Every experience, whether it's inside the classroom or outside the classroom, it truly matters in Clay County district schools."
The district said this bus program is coming with a $10 million price tag over the course of seven years.