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Seat Belt Bill Sparking Debate

WCCU

Seat belts on school buses could be an added safety measure.

A bill being discussed would mandate seat belts in school buses, but it's caused a divide over how much safer the kids would actually be and who would have to pay for it.

A local school administrator says he is all for keeping students safe, but says this would cost too much money and says school buses are already safe.

Some lawmakers are pushing legislation that would require Illinois school buses be equipped with three-point seat belts.

After this bus crash in Chattanooga Tennessee made national headlines, parents say the safety of students should be the top priority.

"I feel it's very important, due to buses are very huge and it can cause a lot of, a big wreck and kids can get in a lot of hurt during the wreck and everything,” said Whispere Beasley, a local parent.

School officials say this bill comes with hefty price tag.

Danville School District Vice President Randal Ashton says this would just be another unfunded mandate, costing them an additional 7 to 18 thousand dollars for each school bus.

"We have to have a discussion on how it's going to be funded, okay of you're going to tell me to do it, and you don't provide me with funds to do it, then I have to reconsider my support,” explained Ashton.

Ashton is open to the discussion of improving student safety, but thinks the school buses are already safe as is.

"We already have safe environment. I mean school buses stand off the ground, they're higher then they're higher then everything else, they're painted, they have spread laws protecting them,” said Ashton.

But parents say the seat belts will make sure the kids stay in their seats.

"Jump out of their seat, climb over seats, go in the seats then go them trying to look at the roads,” said Beasley.

If passed, District 118 would have to buy more school buses because adding seat belts would reduce the number of kids that could fit on each bus.

The bill passed the house committee earlier this month, it is now being considered by the full house of representatives.

Six other states already require seat belts on school buses.

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