Nashville’s public school district is slated to present today a plan for school bus safety to Mayor Karl Dean.
As of Thursday afternoon, district officials said a finalized proposal had not been identified. School board members said as of press time Thursday that they had not received a plan draft, though they will receive one prior to the meeting with Dean at 2 p.m.
Ralph Thompson, assistant superintendent of student services, said the finished proposal will include discussion of school bus monitors, seating assignments, and security cameras.
“At this point, it’s not been completely ironed out,” Thompson said.
Acting Director of Schools Chris Henson, who also serves as the financial chief of Metro Nashville Public Schools, said a comprehensive plan could have significant budget ramifications depending on what is proposed and the timeline for implementation.
“There are also numerous things that can be considered from a process and procedure policy standpoint that can make a difference as well, that may not necessarily have cost implications,” Henson said.
The bus safety plan was requested by Dean in a Feb. 28 letter to Henson.
“Recent events have caused me to be concerned about the safety of children who are being transported by [MNPS],” Dean says in the letter. “As public officials and members of this community, our most important responsibility is to protect our children wherever they are, particularly when they are in our care.”
MNPS is currently the target of a class action lawsuit, following the alleged sexual assault of two young special education students traveling in special education school buses. The assaults are believed to have been committed by other students; special education kids of various ages and conditions travel on the same buses together.
The district currently has 15 special education bus monitor positions allotted, 10 of which are staffed.
Henson said a finished bus safety proposal presented to Dean will include cost estimates for aspects of the plan. The district is due to present the plan to Dean over the course of its second budget hearing with the mayor.
The coincidence of school bus safety discussions with the budget hearing was unintentional, officials said, though it may turn out to be helpful. The purpose of the second budget hearing is to provide, at Dean’s request, itemization and prioritization of the contents of a roughly $13 million “additional needs” list proposed by the district.