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Three vans in SD23 fleet

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School District 23 will investigate the use of 15-passenger vans used to transport students within the district.

SD23 Secretary Treasurer, Larry Paul, says three vans, similar to the one involved in a crash that killed seven basketball players in New Brunswick, are being used within the district.

"We do directly own one 15-passenger van that is controlled by George Elliott Secondary School and the Parent's Society at Rutland Senior owns two of them," says Paul.

"We're going to have a look at them. We were in the process of phasing them out anyway and what the process is to doing that. Obviously there are some logistical issues of not having those vehicles available anymore and what do we do to replace those."

Paul says the tragedy will likely speed up the process.

"I absolutely expect we will be discussing it Wednesday at the board, at least on a preliminary level. It's an issue that has obviously come to light because of the tragedy but it's also something I'm sure the board is going to want to discuss right away."

Despite the accident in New Brunswick, Paul says he doesn't believe a knee-jerk reaction is the way to go.

He says all the facts are not in yet.

"One of the things I have heard is that the vehicle was on all-season radials. Ours are not. I don't know the maintenance history, whether it was a rental and how well the driver was trained."

Paul says the local fleet is inspected two to three times a year.

He also says there will be the matter of what to replace the vehicles with.

"We've been working with the union on how we can change the collective agreement so that it's more favourable to use the yellow buses and our class two bus drivers. Right now to do that on long trips is cost prohibitive."

According to Paul, it could amount to a difference of $25 to put a student in a 15-passenger van or $400 in a bus.

He says the parents couldn't afford it, so, you'd be left with the parents saying they'll just drive their kids.

"Then you're dealing with maybe 10 cars going and we don't know the conditions of any of those vehicles, so we've completely lost control on the safety side."


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