Air Conditioned Buses for All of Duval County's 'Precious Cargo'!
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Reaching Out for Support from Guardians, Parents and Family members of Duval County's 'Precious Cargo'! Dear School Board members; It is Highly Unfortunate in this century, that the Majority of Duval County Students, ride on School buses without A/C. ESE buses have A/C, Charter School (River City & Kipp) buses have A/C, but the Large amount of students attending Regular & Magnet Schools do Not. The buses for River City Science Academy are a Great example of the style that should be assumed & used for All Duval County students!!! They even have heaters in the back of the bus for the children. The current buses, Only have 1 heater at the very front of the bus. Extremely warm temperatures are the norm for the majority of the year, with some near freezing temperatures during the short winter. Temperatures on a school bus increase substantially (approximately 20 degrees greater inside), even when windows are down. Down windows assist very little when sitting in the school Bus zone, bus stops, at an intersection light, road construction, accidents or just heavy traffic. In these scenarios, the air is heavy & stagnant. Temperatures are often only marginally better while in motion. Even then, unless you're directly level with the window opening, it does very little to appease the warmth factor. The Elementary kids, both younger & shorter, are probably the most unfortunate of riders. The warm air flow above their heads, offers little respite. In no time at all, many of the children are passed out, dripping in sweat. Not to mention brains getting overheated. In relation to the scenarios above, there is only marginal improvement for Middle Schoolers and High Schoolers. While the increase in stature, may offer slightly better ventilation, the open windows are an open invitation to other Safety issues for both students and other drivers on the road. Middle school and High school students are often seen with heads &/or arms out the windows whilst buses are in motion on the road, seemingly starved for the airflow momentum outside the bus. Another version of this, is the action of the students sitting on the top of the bus seats in an attempt to get closer to the air from the window. In addition to personal danger, students cause danger to other students and All drivers when throwing items out the open windows to other buses, as well as into surrounding civilian traffic. This occurs, all too frequently!!! Windows on Air Conditioned buses are closed and wouldn't be an open invitation for littering or missile hazards. In the media, are warnings about leaving pets and children in hot vehicles. Often these vehicles have recently had the A/C on and/or perhaps have tinted windows, that may stall the heat threat momentarily, but not for long. Now consider a school bus. Even if the windows are tinted, means next to nothing when open/down, with rays of hot sunshine beaming in! Have them up as visor/shade, have no airflow. Now add to that, hours of sitting in the sun baking the surrounding metal of the bus. Even heating up the seats and seatbelts that the numerous children (up to 65 or 77, at a time) are to sit in & buckle themselves. Then, there are the sporadic rain showers during transport with children shrieking, scrambling in their seats to unbuckle and reach windows to close them to avoid getting rained on. Only to have the bus turn into a Sauna full of fogged up windows, ripe for various forms of artistic expression. It's a time of Global Warming, not cooling. The current high temperatures are record breaking those of past years. Why should public transportation, especially that of 'Precious Cargo', still be based on ancient, substandard requirements? How many Tax Payers are Related to School Age Children? How many of them are aware of the bus conditions? Are Duval County School Board vehicles that probably have A/C, paid for via tax payers? Improving transportation conditions for All the 'Precious Cargo' of Duval County, should be addressed and worked out now between the School Board and Bus Contractors, prior to some far off date mandated by the State. Respectively, S.M. Edwards 2016 Largest School Districts According to NICHE... Duval County Public Schools is #6 in the State of Florida and #21 in America. Duval County Public Schools is centered in Jacksonville, Florida. It has 127,653 students attending 209 schools in grades PK and K-12.The district has an annual budget of $1,131,916,000. Objective; 5.5 Million from Over the Billion in funding shown above. Since 2001, when National Company Contractors were brought in to replace the numerous local companies, A/C buses were talked up and believed to be included for All of Duval County's 'Precious Cargo'. At Least 3 opportunities (5 year Contracts) have come and gone, between then & now (15 Years Later), to have it included via Contract negotiations. It almost happened in 2009, when a new National Contractor came into town, but bids/negotiations took too long. Then, it was crunch time to just get buses in general, without further concern or effort to accommodate Florida temperatures. The 'Time' Is Long Overdue, "The Requirement", should already be In Place!!! Extreme Heat Temperatures in Florida are Not New. They Have and Will, Continue to Intensify Before you make A/C a 'Future Requirement'. Doing the Right, Humane thing, shouldn't have to be a 'Requirement'. That just makes it a circle of Avoidable Responsibility, excused with the simple, quick response of costing too much. A response, that wouldn't be so frustrating if it referred to the entire Fleet all at once with the County having Sole Responsibility. Duval County, as the Largest School District in North Florida, uses Multiple Independent Contractors, via a Bidding process, to service the needs of Public School Transportation, as a cost effective option versus that of County Buses (with additional cost for Insurance, Maintenance, extra employees and Fuel) as used by the surrounding School District Counties in North Florida. It's 'Time' to consider an expedited phasing process.Discuss with the Teamsters Union about redirecting the cost of a years worth of increased wages towards that of A/C buses. Thinking 'outside of the box', the City, Contractors, District and Union working together, it could be possible! Now is the 'Time' to make it happen. The current Contract shouldn't be an issue to prevent getting it done. Recently, in the midst of a contract, it was possible to mandate Contractors to get new ESE buses to accommodate more wheelchairs per bus. Mid way through the school year, suitable buses were regarded as unsuitable and new buses required to be brought in. "Undue Hardship"? Sounds like a change, to Save Duval County money. More wheelchairs per bus, could reduce the need of more buses/Routes. Bonus, In similar scenario, 77 passenger A/C buses seem to be the norm versus old standard 65 passenger, and would be beneficial to alleviate overload issues in many areas that currently have Two buses servicing the exact same stop. It's 'Time' to Improve the 'Undue Hardship' on Duval County's 'Precious Cargo'. Family members of the the City's Tax Payers, deserve Healthier, Safer, more Humane transportation Conditions, For All of them, Not Just ESE. National Companies Contracted to Service the 'Precious Cargo', Have the Ability to Provide the Best, Comfortable Conditions possible! It's the Same Company(ies) providing A/C to Charter School(s) in Duval County. With all due respect Sir, I understand, it's not an easy issue with obvious answers. It Is an issue, Worth looking for answers. Respectively, S.M. Edwards
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