Roundup: Gator Watch, Former First Daughter Talks Bus Safety and More


Leave it to Florida to install a bus stop so close to gator-infested waters, the creatures would hop on board for a ride.

The location near an area apartment complex has parents and others upset, one grandparent reporting that she’s seen multiple alligators swimming only a few feet away from her grandson’s bus stop every morning. 

“It’s scary,” the grandmother said. “Children get picked up here while it’s still dark out. If there’s a gator on the grass they might not be able to tell.”

Precautions have only been made recently, a warning sign posted soon after the tragedy at a Disney resort that involved a toddler being killed by a gator. Residents have reached out to the school district for weeks without response. 

“I kept calling over and over and over again. It felt like they didn’t even care,” the grandmother said.

The area transportation director claimed that students were waiting at the wrong bus stop, but there was no attempt to address the mistake since bus drivers stopped where students congregated and waited. In fact, students should wait at the other flag pole closer to the apartment’s gate.

However, this seems to contradict what residents have heard from the district, the letter stating, ‘Our bus safety team visited Bernwood Trace apartments yesterday and observed a gator about 2 feet in length. It was in a pond on private property about 100 feet away from our assigned bus stop. We were back out there today for another look. Due to the distance from the stop, the team determined it’s a safe location for the students to wait for the bus.’

Jenna Bush Hager, daughter of former President George W. Bush, is working on spreading the word on bus safety to parents around the nation. She recently spoke with the non-profit Propane Education & Research Council about the necessity of shifting from traditional fuel sources, telling attendees “we want to make sure kids get to school safely and that they start their day on the right foot.” She added that both the noise and air pollution created by diesel buses “isn’t the best way to start a day.” Putting environmental issues aside, Hager also spoke about general safety, letting parents know that they should routinely talk about how to stay safe with their children. “Even though it may sound obvious, going through routines creates happier children,” Hager said. “I always recommend taking the time this week to talk about bus safety like always sitting down immediately and staying seated throughout the ride. There are lots of tips like this on”

The 30-minute car ride from Apex to Raleigh is not ideal for a 4-year-old with special needs who needs to get to and from school each day. But it’s better than the hours little Eliana spends each day strapped into a van provided by the school district. “Right now, they have her in a cab that’s two hours each way. So, knowing with her special needs she has severe non-verbal autism, she has albinism, she’s legally blind, and she has sensory issues, it’s just too much of a ride,” Eliana’s mother said. She tried to get the route times to the school done, but got nowhere. “There’s either no response or little response, voicemails. You need to contact this person, you need to contact this person, kind of passing of the buck, and I don’t feel like anybody’s taking responsibility,” she said. The school distract reported that ride times are often longer at the beginning of the school year, and that there is no law that sets a maximum transportation time for students with special needs. According to district policy, any student who attends a school other than their base school can expect rides of up to two hours each way.

Kids all around central New York are heading back to school, parents sending their precious cargo off on school buses each morning. with their parents sending them off on a school bus each day. But before students step aboard, school bus drivers take a number of precautions to make sure that each and every child returns home at the end of the day. Take for instance Golden Sun buses, which services Fulton City Schools. The wee hours of the morning for drivers is spent inspecting all the vehicles to make sure things are running smoothly. According to Patrick Kinane, the president of Golden Sun Bus Company, “It’s a 15-minute inspection of the bus, checks all lights, horns, airbrakes, and tires.” He added that the checks his drivers perform are crucial and the most important thing they do when they leave the yard, especially on the first day because bus drivers get the back to school nerves too. “Kids get on the bus, parents letting go for the first time. Kids are all excited…it’s fun to watch,” Kinane said. He compares it to being a parent of 40 to 50 kids when you’re constantly looking at what is going on behind you and drive a bus all at the same time.