• Brownsburg School Corporation accused of running buses over capacity

    August 29, 2011 No comments

    The Brownsburg Community School Corporation is defending itself against accusations of overcrowded buses.

    In a story in the Hendricks County Flyer, the article stated that a student took a photo with his cell phone on one Brownsburg school bus, showing at least one student sitting in the aisle. Other students and parents have complained that the buses are too crowded so far this school year.

    Donna Petraits, director of communications for the school corporation, says she can’t say for sure whether every seat was filled on that bus, or if some students chose to sit closer to friends.

    Either way, Petraits says children sitting in a school bus aisle is a safety issue and should not happen.

    Petraits said, ”I’m not denying our buses are more crowded this year, but the accusation seems to be (that) we’re putting students’ safety at risk, and that’s certainly not the case. The issue is are they crowded or over capacity. Over capacity is not safe.”

    The Brownsburg Community School Corporation retooled its transportation plan over the summer. A commission of community members convened by the school corporation recommended redesigning some routes so that buses carried more passengers. They also urged the corporation to establish one-mile walking districts for students, another cost-cutting measure.

    In the past, officials have been able to accurately estimate how many students ride the bus, especially on the elementary level. So far this school year, though, more secondary students than usual have been riding buses, making them more crowded.

    Adjustments to the corporation’s transportation policy are already under way. Bus drivers are expected to do head counts and call in backup if their bus is over capacity (elementary buses hold up to 84 students at three per seat and secondary buses hold 56 students at two per seat). However, Petraits says it’s not a quick fix. Some of the 7,300 students are still in flux as far as home addresses and pick-up points. Others don’t ride the buses they’re assigned to, something school officials have to crack down on now that buses are running fuller, she said.

    Petraits said,”We’re making adjustments daily. We may have to add routes and will if it’s necessary. Cost is only an issue up to the point that it becomes a safety issue. Safety always trumps cost.”


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