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Hays CISD school board votes to buy 30 new school buses with seat belts after fatal crash

The front of a yellow school bus says "School Bus" above the windshield.
Patricia Lim
KUT News
The Hays CISD school board unanimously voted Monday to buy 30 new school buses with seat belts.

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The Hays CISD school board unanimously voted Monday to spend $4.7 million to buy 30 school buses with seat belts that will arrive within the next 12 months.

“I am excited about this and just so our public knows, yes, they will have seat belts, they will be built with seat belts,” Trustee Vanessa Petrea said at Monday's special meeting.

Bond money will be used to buy the buses.

Tim Savoy, the district's chief communications officer, said as of this week all the buses used on regular daily routes will have seat belts.

The purchase is part of the district’s effort to improve school bus safety after a deadly crash March 22. A concrete truck hit the front of a Hays CISD school bus returning from a field trip, killing 5-year-old Ulises Rodriguez Montoya and UT Austin doctoral candidate Ryan Wallace, who was in a car behind the bus. The school bus, which was carrying pre-K students from Tom Green Elementary, did not have seat belts.

Hays CISD Chief Operations Officer Max Cleaver told trustees the district is ordering the buses from Longhorn Bus Sales on Tuesday. He said he expects they will be 2025 model buses.

Trustee Courtney Runkle thanked the district for moving quickly to get new buses.

“We hope that the timeline of these buses come a lot quicker than the anticipated time,” she said.

The Hays CISD school board also approved a plan to spend nearly $400,000 to retrofit 13 buses in its fleet that don’t already have seat belts.

Cleaver said the district is placing the order for materials this week to upgrade the buses. He expects to receive them within the next six weeks. He said the buses will be retrofitted in time for the beginning of the next school year.

People who were hurt in the crash, including a pre-K teacher aide, have sued the truck company and driver, Jerry Hernandez, who has been charged with criminally negligent homicide.

Becky Fogel is the education reporter at KUT. Got a tip? Email her at Follow her on Twitter @beckyfogel.
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