Bus contractor vote: ‘I don’t think there’s a dollar figure we can put on the safety for our children’

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (WDEF) – The Woodmoore bus crash is something Hamilton County will likely never forget.

The crash killed six elementary students over two years ago.

So to put a price tag on the safety of bus services is something that might be hard to do.

“I think given what’s happened in this community it was a, it’s a wise investment to go with the safest company possible,” District 8 Hamilton County School Board Member Tucker McClendon said.

McClendon was one of the majority of board members that voted to accept First Student as the new bus contractor over renewing with Durham Thursday night.

First Student’s proposal was one million dollars more, but it was the safety that became more important than the cost.

“I’m always conscience of the budget, but in this instance I thought safety out weighed the cost and I don’t think there’s a dollar figure we can put on the safety for our children,” McClendon said.

McClendon said the proposal includes brand new buses and better technology.

He said he likes that they’re data driven when it comes to safety.

“There’s data to the complaints and everything and they can track them and make sure that they are transporting our students safely to school,” McClendon said.

First Student’s proposal is for three years.

Looking ahead, school board members will vote on a contract.

And even further down the road, McClendon said they’re looking to run the transportation themselves.

“That would be having all the operations within the county system. So not having a third party come in,” McClendon said.

Durham’s contract expires at the end of the school year.

McClendon said he hopes the board’s decision will assure parents that their kids will be safe.

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