VENTURA, Calif. — Education officials have raised concerns over a grand jury's recommendation for countywide reporting of school bus safety information.
News of a fatal school bus accident in Missouri prompted the Ventura County Grand Jury to investigate school bus safety among the county's 21 school districts.
A report released by the grand jury earlier this month says that the information provided by school districts "appears to indicate that school bus travel in the county is safe."
The grand jury estimated that there were 16,167 daily student bus riders in Ventura County for the 2009-10 school year. It found that there was a total of 41 school bus-related accidents that year, resulting in four injuries to bus riders.
But the grand jury said in its report that it found "a lack of comparable, consistent data between districts, which makes objective measure of school bus safety difficult."
The report recommends that the Ventura County Office of Education collect and report school bus safety information within the county and develop a standard collection form. Districts should use the form to report the information to the county office, and the information should be posted on the districts' and the county office's websites, the grand jury said.
But county and district officials expressed skepticism over the recommendations.
County Superintendent of Schools Stan Mantooth told the Ventura County Star that the California Highway Patrol reports every accident involving a school bus and that "the request for us to gather, compile and post information unfortunately does not come along with any resources."
Jeff Baarstad, superintendent of the Conejo Valley Unified School District in Thousand Oaks, cited tight budgets and questioned the value of the reporting.
"The question is, would the additional effort necessary on the part of the county and on the part of the districts to collect the data result in any additional safety for kids?" Baarstad told the Ventura County Star.
To view the grand jury's report, click here.