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After fatal crash, Hays CISD needs to spend $8.9M for seat belts on all its buses

A school bus in rush hour traffic on MoPac South
Gabriel C. Pérez
KUT News
The school district plans to have 100% of its bus fleet equipped with seat belts as soon as possible.

The Hays CISD’s Board of Trustees has created a plan to ensure all school buses are equipped with seat belts following a fatal Hays CISD bus crash last month. A Tom Green Elementary School bus was returning pre-K students from a field trip to a zoo in Bastrop County when a concrete truck hit the front of the bus, resulting in two deaths.

Hays CISD began buying school buses with seat belts after a state law passed in 2017 requiring them in new buses, but the bus involved in the incident was an older model and didn’t have seat belts.

The district plans to have 100% of its bus fleet equipped with seat belts as soon as possible, according to a plan it published on its website Friday. But the turnaround time for school bus purchases is about a year long. This means it could be a while before Hays CISD meets its goal.

How many Hays CISD buses don't have seat belts?

Hays CISD has two types of buses: route buses and support buses. Route buses transport students to and from school each day and are also the first option for field trips. Support buses are the extra supply and are primarily used for athletics, but can also be pulled into rotation when needed.

About 86% of route buses have seat belts, but only about 19% of support buses have them. The district plans to purchase new buses and retrofit older models with seat belts to fill in these gaps.

Hays CISD has already received 21 new buses that will join the fleet in the next few weeks. The district says by April 30, all route buses and six more support buses will have seat belts.

How much will adding seat belts cost?

In total, Hays CISD would need to spend about $8.9 million to cover the cost of this proposed plan.

The district is looking to retrofit 2017 and 2016 buses for $468,000, which would come from either bond interest money or surplus bond funds.

Voters approved a Hays CISD bond in 2023, which included $1.5 million for buying new buses, but the district will consider moving forward its timeline to buy these as soon as possible. It also wants to spend an additional $3.3 million from bond interest or surplus bond money on more new buses.

The school district will also consider taking the issue to a bond measure that would go to voters in May 2025, which would include at least $3.6 million for new buses.

Funding for seat belts on school buses has been around for a while. During the 2009 legislative session, state lawmakers set aside $10 million for the School Bus Seat Belt Grant Program that districts and charter schools could apply for.

However, only four school districts applied for and received funding, and Hays CISD wasn’t one of them.

Maya Fawaz is KUT's Hays County reporter. Got a tip? Email her at Follow her on Twitter @mayagfawaz.
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