News & Updates

March 3. School Board Approves Seat Belts on School Buses:

All 6 of our Waltham School Committee members voted to have lap/shoulder seat belts on Waltham school buses for the next three year contract (starting in September, 2011).

 

February 5, 2011. The deadline for taking bids is close and the school committee needs to vote by Feb. 16 on the winning bid, in order for the winner to have time to order buses in time for next September. Read the timeline of events and please urge your school committee to vote in favor of belts!

December 20, 2010: RFB released. Read the bid request here.

August 10, 2010. Status of the Invitation for Bid for Waltham's Student Transportation Services Contract:  A draft copy of the bid request document that contains an option for school buses to be equpped with lap-shoulder seat belts in addition to the no-belt option was submitted to the City Law Department and the Purchasing Agent for review on August 6 by the school department business office. Once the business office receives approval from both the law and purchasing departments, they will establish exact dates for the release of the bid document to the public for open bidding.

 

May 19 2010. Update on meetings to plan the wording of the RFB and view CE White Seats

April 28 2010. School Board Agrees to Include Seat Belts in Future Request for Bids

At the April 28 school committee meeting, board members agreed to support the addition of lap/shoulder belts in the next bid proposal for Waltham school buses, which is slated to go out to potential bidders November 2010.  Waltham4Seatbelts presented the committee with information on seat belt safety, cost, and benefits, as well as a petition signed by more than 800 Waltham residents, including many local fire fighters who support seat belts. Because the timeline for the next bid proposal is tight, the board agreed to move quickly. (Read the full release here.)

W4S chair, Dr. Rachel Learned, also received a letter from a Waltham parent explaining his views on the benefits of seat belts. Read the letter here. 

March 16 2010, Waltham4Seatbelts Publishes Petition and Informational Hand-Out
To read our FAQ and flier on key questions about seat belts and school buses, please go here.  

Feb 16 2010, Waltham4Seatbelts Issues Recommendations for 2011/2013 School Bus Request for Bids
Waltham4Seatbelts has issued its suggestions for future request for bids on Waltham school bus contracts. The recommendations have come about based on W4S.org's meetings on Oct 14, 2009 and again on December 2, 2009 with Dr. Peter Azar, who invited W4S to collaborate on a new school bus seat belt policy.  At the December 2 meeting, the Dr. Azar also welcomed Waltham4Seatbelts' offer to submit a report with its recommendations for a request for bids (RFB) for the 2011/2013 school bus contract.  

The attached report conveys our recommendations for the RFB for the 2011-2013 school bus contract.

Feb 15 2020,  Waltham Schools Superintendent Works with Waltham4Seatbelts on Bus Seatbelt Policies

When the 2010/2011 school year rolls around, Waltham school children will be traveling to field trips in safer, seatbelt-equipped buses. The latest meeting between Waltham schools superintendent Dr. Peter Azar and Waltham4Seatbelts representatives resulted in an agreement on a policy to require that Waltham's school bus provider, Eastern Bus Company, provide belted buses for all field trips. 

Eastern currently has eight of its buses equipped with basic airline-style, non-retractable lap belts and will add lap belts to a few more buses in order to comply with the policy.

The next step will be to ask the Waltham school district to include lap/shoulder belts as a requirement in the upcoming 2011-2013 bus contract.

To read the full news item, click here.

Oct 14 Meeting with Dr. Azar, Officer Frassica, Leanne Wilcinski and Seat Belt Committee Chair and Member, Rachel Learned and Jen Sharkey. The Seat Belt Committee’s continuing attempts to effect policy started in April, 2009. The Waltham School District has responded and movement to address the issue has begun. There was an agreement to draft a policy that protects Waltham school children during school bus travel. by Dr Azar, Officer Frassica and Ms. Wilcinski, as a group and individually.

  • Seat Belt Committee provided policies from 8 different school districts across the country, including Newton MA .
  • Seat Belt Committee conveyed the policy/procedure “wish list” we created from conversations/emails with over 100 concerned parents since April 2009.
  • Dr. Azar will first draft an interim policy that will address field trips with available belts and will reconvene this group to fine tune it.
  • We agreed that the people present at this meeting were to be the core members of the team that will follow through to bring a new seat belt policy to the school board for approval as soon as possible. 
  • The next steps include iterating with several others 1) Waltham Law Department to ensure the policy is compliant with MA laws and current city ordinance (Waltham laws), 2) a representative from the Eastern Bus Company to determine feasibility within the current bus inventory, 3) the director of school nurses and additional teacher and parent representatives.
  • The process will eventually include a presentation of this policy to the School Committee for their input, and ultimately a vote.
  • A first draft and similar procedure will follow for a long term policy after the interim policy is adopted. This needs to be accomplished in time for the School Department business manager, Leanne Wilcinski to draft the guideline for school bus bids for the 2011-2013 bus contract, which would need to include specific language regarding seat belts.  To facilitate this process, the Seat Belt Committee provided Ms. Wilcinski with specific examples of current contracts in place across the country between school districts ad their bus service providers.

The Seat Belt Committee requested that the interim field-trip policy be in place by the end of this calendar year, and offered our resources to keep the progress moving at a swift pace.  Dr. Azar set the expectation that his draft will be ready within a few weeks so the Seat Belt Committee anticipates that we will reconvene sometime in November.  


School Committee Addresses Seat Belt Issue in Oct. 7 Meeting.
 During the public comment time at the outset of the school board meeting, several members of the seatbelt committee spoke in favor of a seatbelt policy for Waltham school buses. Later in the meeting itself, the board discussed the issue and asked Dr. Azar and a member from the seatbelt committee, with input from Officer Frassica, to draft a possible policy on belts for the Waltham school district. Rachel Learned and Jen Sharkey are pulling together sample policies from other districts as well as cost/availability information, and plan to meet with Dr. Azar on October 14.
 
Letter Sent to School Committee Members by Rachel Learned, Oct 4.
 
 
Recap of the Citywide PTO meeting on September 30th.
Rachel Learned, Jen Sharkey and Dimitry Zarkh presented information on the importance of requiring seatbelts on Waltham school buses, especially those that go on highways. Rachel spoke about the amount of research that the commitee's parents have put into finding out about seatbelt safety, types of seatbelts, and the laws and policies in other regions in the U.S. The vast majority of research strongly supports the use of seatbelts. She also passed around a clipboard for anyone interested in receiving emails with updates, which about 30 people signed. Dimitry presented information about Eastern and Laidlaw bus companies, both of which have buses with belts and would be willing to comply with any requirement to provide them. The cost to the company of adding belts to a bus has been estimated, in California, at under $1,800 per bus so the extra cost to lease belted buses would also likely be small. As both companies purchase new buses, they tend to purchase them equipped with belts. Jen commented that by not providing seatbelts on school buses we are sending conflicting messages to children; why is it safe to ride unrestrained on the highway in a bus, but not OK to do so in a car going 25 mph on local roads? Jen requested the superintendent or school board implement an immediate policy change requiring belts on all field trips, with the longer term goal of getting belts on all school buses for both field trips and regular routes. Mayor McCarthy agreed to add the topic to the next school commitee meeting agenda.