School buses cost taxpayers thousands

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) -The South Carolina Department of Education cost taxpayers at least $663,511.25 because of payouts made for insurance claims in January, according to new data from the state’s Insurance Reserve Fund.

Of more than 35 payouts involving the Department of Education, two claims totaling $74,555.95 listed the cause of claim as “hurricane.”

The remaining $588,955.30 in payouts involving the department list causes like school bus accidents, hitting pedestrians, backing up into cars, rear ending other cars and problems at intersections.

Many of those incidents list “school bus” as part of the claim, indicating school buses were often involved in the accidents.

“Well that’s a pretty large number for one month,” West Ashley resident Louis Owens said. “But my main thing here is the safety of the children.”

Many incidents happened several years ago, but were just settled in January, according to data from the IRF.

“The state owns and operates 5600 buses that travel 82 million miles each year taking over 350,000 kids to school each day,” Department of Education spokesperson Ryan Brown said. “While the state does not employ bus drivers (they are school district employees), we do own the buses and thus get named in every lawsuit involving a school bus.”

One claim involves a case in Berkeley County, where a man sued the Berkeley County School District after a bus apparently rear ended his car.

Another claim with payouts totaling more than $80,000 was made to someone because a bus rider was hit by a car.

Some people said they would like to see less accidents happening because they think that’s money that could be well-spent somewhere else.

“Our school system needs work,” West Ashley Resident Jody Cohen said. “But school buses? That’s what we’re spending t on? It’s just a lot.”

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