Bus Business

Parents Issue Complaints Following Bus Trip; International Continues to Experience Maintenance Issues

Charity Perry

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The International bus, which has broken down numerous times this year, once again is in the shop. This time the school has it getting serviced in Lubbock. The last time it broke down was when the students took it to the New Home Basketball Tournament. It wasnt as scary as being on the side of the road in Silverton, but it was better than breaking down on the road, and standing in a field because the bus might get hit, Sophomore Sydney Ritter said.

William Kelly

The International bus, which has broken down numerous times this year, once again is in the shop. This time the school has it getting serviced in Lubbock. The last time it broke down was when the students took it to the New Home Basketball Tournament. “It wasn’t as scary as being on the side of the road in Silverton, but it was better than breaking down on the road, and standing in a field because the bus might get hit,” Sophomore Sydney Ritter said.

Standing or sitting could be the difference between being safe or not on a school bus, according to the Texas Department of Transportation.

Groom basketball players and coaches were headed home Saturday, Dec. 3, after a three-day tournament at New Home. Videos and photos were posted of students and coaches on social media sites. Parents saw images of some sitting and of some standing, singing and dancing on the bus.

“Who needs a party bus, when you have the Blue Bird?” Sophomore Adrian Hendricks said on the bus ride back to Groom.

While most students appeared to be having fun, some parents said they did not appreciate what they saw and contacted the school administration.

“The issue has been addressed with the correct personnel,” Principal Stephen Vanderpool said, “I think if students had a problem with it, they should’ve gone to the coaches first.”

Many felt the students and parents strong reactions to the activities on last week’s bus trip gained so much negative attention due to the news that broke Friday night Dec. 2, after another Texas school experienced a deadly crash.

Iraan Sheffield School District played Munday in Colorado City that evening. After a playoff win for the Iraan Braves, the fans and athletes were headed home. On Interstate 20, near Big Spring in Howard county, the night turned from win-induced excitement to tragedy.

A small activity bus carrying six cheerleaders and two sponsors was involved in an accident with an 18-wheeler. Although most student riders were released that night or the next day with only minor injuries, but the school and community suffered the loss of one of their own. Elizabeth Pope 52, was taken to the nearest hospital and died due to her injuries.

“Parents have a valid reason to be concerned of the safety of their children,” superintendent Jay Lamb said. “But, the Iraan incident was completely different than this (Groom’s Dec. 3 bus activities). Anytime there is a bus wreck included with children, it’s dangerous and has many causalities, especially if standing.”

With the Iraan accident, an 18-wheeler was headed the opposite way when a car slammed on its brakes in front of the semi. When the truck driver swerved to miss the car, it went across the center median and ran into the Iraan bus.

Not only has this raised concerns for students safety, but so has the maintenance issues with Groom’s International bus that the teams first took to New Home. The bus broke down three times on Thursday, Dec. 1. The varsity teams almost had to walk to the gym for their games, until their opponents the New Home Leopards sent a bus to give them a ride. Prior to that, the bus has had several other breakdowns, including one on the way home from Silverton.

“It wasn’t as scary as being on the side of the road in Silverton, but it was better than breaking down on the road, and standing in a field because the bus might get hit,” Sophomore Sydney Ritter said.

Since the Bond passed, the school board has been working on getting a new travel bus for students. Administration is currently evaluating transportation solutions.