Do Bus Drivers Need More Help?

JONESBORO, AR--Wednesday's stabbing aboard a Missouri school bus begs the question, do drivers need more help keeping peace on the bus?

It's something that is hitting home with school bus drivers.

"I know it's in the back of everyone's mind. I am glad it didn't happen to us. I wonder how would I have reacted? You just wonder, what you would do," said Stan Salmons the director of transportation for Valley View Schools.

Salmons has driven buses for 20 years and knows it isn't an easy job.

"Just about every school has the same problem, it is very hard to maintain order and watch that road," said Salmons.

"You have teachers in the classroom that are in charge of 30 kids, while you have bus drivers who are in charge of 70 plus students," said Valley View Superintendent Dr. Radius Baker.

Baker feels adding an attendant to a bus goes a long way to preventing behavioral problems. Students like Victoria Brieske agree.

"I think if it was in the benefit of the safety for kids, then it would definitely be worth it," said Brieske.

The only holdup is money. Valley View believes it would cost them over $100,000 annually to put another employee on every bus. Parents like Margie McGee feel that is money well spent.

"That's a safety issue and I just don't think you can put a price on safety," said McGee.

Currently, Valley View has one attendant who cycles between all the buses in their fleet. Since that monitor can't keep an eye on every student all the time, they have installed cameras on all the buses to deter any bad behavior.

However, cameras are not a substitute for a live body, but some smaller districts can't afford to hire additional help. Money aside, Dr. Baker says schools are going to protect their students.

"When it gets to the point where it is a must, I can guarantee you that school districts in this area, you will start to see many of the districts employing monitors for buses," said Baker.

Dr. Baker says he believes Wednesday's stabbing will be discussed the next time the Craighead County superintendents have their monthly meeting.