Inside of school buses can reach 92 degrees in May

School board looks into cooling off students by painting white roofs or even air conditioning fleet

June 11, 2008 at 12:29 pm  | Mobile Reader | Pring this storyPrint 

Inside of school buses can reach 92 degrees in May
During the piping-hot month of May, temperatures in parish school buses can reach as high as 92 degrees, which leaves school board members searching for a way to lower the heat.
One of those options could include adding air conditioning to all 133 buses.

The temperature readings were gathered last month after Superintendent Rodney Lafon directed the schools’ transportation department to monitor the temperatures on parish school buses. Lafon decided on the measure after attending a School Transportation Achievement Team meeting and hearing concerns over high temperatures.

88 percent of those that attend school in the parish use the buses for transportation.

The temperature readings were taken on 51 buses with and without white roofs, tinted windows and acoustic ceilings. The white roofs reflect heat more than a dark color does so that interior temperature will stay at a lower level, while the tinted windows keep out direct sunlight.

The average temperature of all buses without white roofs was 87 degrees during the morning routes. The warmer temperatures were seen in the afternoon, when the buses without white roofs averaged a temperature of close to 91 degrees. Buses with white roofs, tinted windows or acoustic ceilings averaged only two degrees lower in the afternoon and three to four degrees cooler in the morning.

Because of the high temperatures, the administration had asked the transportation department to look into painting white roofs and tinting windows on the buses that don’t currently have those heat-lowering devices. It would cost $57,000 to paint white roofs on 35 buses and $24,000 to tint the windows on 30.

The administration also had transportation look into retrofitting nine head start buses with full air-conditioning, which would cost $72,000, or $8,000 per bus.
School Board President John Smith said that he felt the board should look into air-conditioning the entire fleet, which would cost around $1 million to retrofit the 133 route buses. However, it would take one week for each bus to be outfitted with air conditioning, which wouldn’t be possible to complete this summer. The transportation department said that there are only two companies in the area they would trust to get the job done right.

“I don’t care about having the job done in the area or locally,” Smith said. “I want to know if we can get the job done this summer if we use several companies. Let’s think outside the box because I know the board is concerned with getting this done.”

But fellow board member Stephen Crovetto says that the board shouldn’t rush to a quick decision.

“This board has done a really good job of working in phases,” he said. “If we decide to do it, let’s do it with a systematic plan.”

Board member Ellis Alexander says that the board should first try to air condition the nine head start buses this summer and see how the project goes from there.

“Let’s stick with nine buses,” he said. “We can do that this summer and have them ready to roll when school starts. If we do those nine, we can see how it works out and then make a decision on the rest of the buses.”

Smith countered by saying that he doesn’t want to go ahead with a plan to air condition all the buses, but just wants the transportation department to see how much it would cost and how quickly it could be accomplished.

The proposal should come up again at the next Transportation Committee meeting.

View other articles written Jonathan Menard

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