John L. Rhodes, the district transportation officer, said a padded seat acted as a compartment for riders. He said it was felt by some that belts kept students in their seats but allowed their heads to be thrown back, with little support. The "compartment" allows the student to ride between two padded areas, he said.
"The issue is one that elicits a lot of emotion," Rhodes said, adding that the board was more concerned with providing escape hatches to be used in case of an accident.
Rhodes also said that a bigger issue was having the driver know where the children were when they were outside the bus. "More are hit outside the bus than in it; that's where you get the fatalities, not in the bus," he said.
Kelly said that, although the board was opposed to seat belts on buses, it would consider a Canadian study being conducted on the matter.
None of the district's buses has safety belts, Kelly said. If belts were mandatory, he said, there might be the problem of a child's using a belt as a weapon to strike another child.
Kelly said the board was concerned with students' safety. In many cases, he said, buses take longer routes in an effort to avoid dangerous hills or intersections.