Madison County adds air conditioning to all 250 school buses

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MADISON COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) - School is back in session on Wednesday in Madison County, which means students will be getting on and off the school bus in some of the hottest temperatures we'll see all year.

Before the bus pulls up to your bus stop, the Madison County School Maintenance Department works hard in an un-air conditioned garage to make sure they're all ready for day one.  “We do a complete inspection of all 254 buses, top to bottom to make sure their safe and secure," says Dan Evans, the director of operations for Madison County Schools.  “Students will come with a well maintained, clean bus to start the year with.”

Evans says, during summer months, un-air conditioned buses can hit 100 degrees inside, so the school system has been working since 2002 to fix that problem.

While there’s nothing school leaders can do about this oppressive outdoor heat, for the first time in school district history, every single one of these school buses in the 250 feet has working air conditioning.

He says the process to convert their fleet took longer because each new bus comes with an $87,000 price tag.  “It doesn’t sound like much, $5,000 more for an air-conditioned bus, but when you multiply it by 20 times, it’s over a million dollars. So we’ve had to ease our way into it, but certainly our children are worth much more than that," he says.

Evans says it's a feat few other district's can boast.  “I don’t know of any other system in the state, our size, that has 250 buses that all of them are air-conditioned," he says.

The district also has other practices to limit their rider's exposure to sweltering temperatures. “We let them idle it more that we normally would, to bring the temperatures down. We also ask schools not to bring them out until the last minute," says Evans.

They also don't allow any of the windows to come down, keeping the cool air in and the hot air out.

Madison County Schools has enough air-conditioned buses for the daily routes, but the Director of Operations tells us if one of the buses breaks down, the replacement ones don't have A/C. Evans says usually, they can fix the daily buses within a day or two.