Seat belts in buses an issue at School Board

Staff Writer
Devils Lake Journal
At Monday’s School Board meeting the board congratulated the district employees of the Quarter. Here Board member Steve Halldorson congratulates Lorrie Bonn who was selected as the classified employee of the quarter.

The only thing the members of the Devils Lake School Board disagreed on at Monday’s meeting was whether or not to order buses with seat belts or without seat belts.

Buses No. 3 and 7 are slated to be replaced. When they asked for bids, they asked for bids without seat belts and bids with seat belts.

It wasn’t much of a disagreement because all of the members thought it was a good idea and that someday it would be adopted statewide.

However, no school district in North Dakota, to their knowledge, has purchased buses with seat belts, yet, so Superintendent Scott Privratsky and some of the other board members had some questions that they voiced.

How does it work when the buses are transporting passengers who are Kindergarten age and size all the way up to tall senior high school students?

Will using the seat belts be mandatory for everyone?

Who is going to make them buckle up and stay buckled up?

Will there have to be bus monitors on each bus?

Will they have to use the seat belts for short trips, like from Minnie H to Central Middle School?

Who is going to help the youngest riders get out of their seat belts in the event that there is an accident and they are buckled in tightly?

What are the liability issued involved here?

They had lots of questions and few answers.

School Board member Jeff Frith led the argument for spending the extra $4,000 for each new bus having the seat belts installed.

No one really opposed him, but when it came down to a vote, it was split three in favor of ordering the buses without the seat belts and two opposed (Frith and Hodous). The “ayes” carried the motion, therefore they will order the two replacement buses without seat belts, but continue to study the situation so they are ready for the next time this comes up and they will have more answers to their questions.