Cleveland Students Petition for School Bus Seatbelts
published on January 14, 2020 by Sonia Mastros
At this point, it's become commonplace to hear stories of cities and districts deciding to budget for school bus seat belts - but here's a story with a twist. The city council of Beachwood City, OH, a suburb of Cleveland, recently purchased two new belt-equipped buses, along with retrofits of their existing buses, to the tune of $250,000. They were, in fact, the first district in Ohio to do so.
Why? Because the children asked for it!
Students Petition For School Bus Seat Belts
It began as a simple civics project for a third grade class at Beachwood City ISD. Their social studies teacher Ms. Challenger, working with the local city council, decided to have a project where the class would present a genuine petition for new legislation as a way of learning about the local political process.
The class actually came up with several good ideas, including stricter leash laws and a call for more crosswalks around town. However, when one student suggested school bus seat belts, it hit a nerve. The class quickly decided on that as their petition, and the class project continued.
Little did they know that they would ultimately have a friend on the city council. City Council VP James Pasch had been injured terribly in a bus accident when he was a teenager, breaking his neck and back, ultimately spending most of a year in a body cast. He firmly believed that seat belts would have prevented his injuries, and when presented with the students' petition, became an advocate for their cause.
With his help, the bill passed with surprisingly little friction - going from proposal to legal ordnance in only about two months! It was approved last December, 2018, with the new buses and upgrades being added to their fleet during this past semester.
In addition, Beachwood City may have started a trend in Ohio schools. Shortly after they announced their plan to add belts to their buses, nearby suburb Avon Lake announced that they would do the same. It appears that these students' little civics project has had far more far-reaching results than they ever could have imagined.
In the end, it's unlikely that many petitions for school bus seat belts will follow this exact trajectory... but it's still heartening to see that local government can work so well. These students undoubtedly came away with a great appreciation for their political process, and perhaps they will inspire more districts in the future.
So, what do you think? Have we reached a tipping point on school bus seat belts? Let's talk about it in the comments!