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Audit raises red flags about Richmond school buses

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) — The Richmond auditor’s findings on the conditions of the city’s school buses and drivers is raising a number of red flags.

CBS 6 News obtained a copy of the 30 page report, which reveals a number of concerns:

  • Nearly half of the city school buses need to be replaced.
  • Most of them don’t meet EPA standards.
  • There’s no specific plan to replace them.
  • More than half don’t have working surveillance cameras.
  • And there is concern that some bus drivers may spend more time behind the wheel than allowed under State law.

“I’ve been taking my children to school myself anyway, but that makes me more certain what I’m doing is the right thing myself,” mother Anne Jones said.

Clifton Steed Jr. said he thinks city leaders need to allocate more funding to replace the aging buses.

“The problem is there. They know it’s there [and] they should be doing something about it immediately,” he said.

School Board Chair Don Coleman said he understands parents concerns.

Coleman said the additional $3.8 million city council allocated for schools will help hire more drivers and replace a number of buses.

“What we’re deciding now is do we go for a bigger bang by leasing,” Coleman said. “We can lease more buses or fiscally do we look at purchasing the buses, so we’re weighing the numbers out to do what we can.”

However, no timeline for replacing the city’s aging bus fleet was released because but Richmond’s superintendent was in the process of hiring a school transportation director to properly keep up those vehicles.

School leaders also want to install GPS systems on buses to monitor drivers.