70ºF

Parents, students voice concern over rusted Galveston ISD buses

GALVESTON, Texas – At first glance, it appears to be a school bus that's seen its fair share of better days.

But an even closer look is disturbing for some parents and students in Galveston ISD who said the visible rust is enough to be alarmed.

Doesn't look very safe to me. My kids don't take the bus, not very often. But they do go on school events. Yeah, I'd like them to be a lot safer," Phil Morisset said.

Another parent, who posted images of the bus on social media, said they were taken Tuesday night when his child rode the bus to a soccer game in Texas City.

His concern? How safe is the bus or others with rust problems.

"Doesn't seem sturdy. Seems like, bad," student Leslie Castillo said.

"The picture I just seen and what I seen the bus right behind us, yeah, they need some work," Morisset said.

When visiting the Galveston ISD bus barn, at least three buses were spotted with rust.

"It's not a good very reputation. We should have better buses," Morisset said.

"Makes it look like we don't take care of our stuff or we just don't care about it like, 'oh well it's rust, (it) will be fine,'" Castillo said.

Here is a statement from Galveston ISD:

"This week members of the Galveston ISD community expressed concern to the press and through social media regarding the condition of GISD buses and the corresponding safety of the students being transported.

"The Galveston ISD bus fleet was lost during the Ike Hurricane. We were fortunate to purchase used buses (1997 Crown Buses) at a discounted price from Houston ISD. Since that time we have worked to add to the fleet through the budgeting of the district's Maintenance and Operations fund. The M&O fund provides for salaries, materials, supplies, utilities and transportation costs: the monies to run the school district. Although the district can purchase buses through the Interest and Sinking fund, GISD previously did not seek voter support to incur the debt associated with the purchase of buses. We budget for buses or the maintenance of buses every year.  Recovery and re-establishment of the bus fleet has been a long process and we are addressing the need moving forward. The 2018 Bond election called by the Galveston ISD Board of Trustees specifically addresses the purchase of new buses and fleet vehicles.

"We currently run 46 buses, 43 on regular daily routes. All 46 can be used for extracurricular activities when not serving our daily needs: Transporting 3,725 students on Galveston Island, 100 students on Bolivar Peninsula, and 99 students with special needs spanning the Island, Peninsula and into Northern Galveston County. When buses are on the daily routes, we must prioritize extracurricular use including the times when buses and drivers are off the Island. There is no bus on the road that has not passed a state inspection and the drivers are required to conduct daily inspections on the equipment to ensure safe operation at all times.

"I cannot dispute that buses in the Galveston ISD fleet suffer from the conditions of time and a harsh salt-water climate. Indeed not all of our buses aesthetically reflect the pride we share in our students and our district, however we are dedicated to the safe transportation of students and will never compromise on that commitment."