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NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Nashville's public school system took a major step Friday toward putting adult monitors on all special education buses.
The school board's Budget and Finance committee recommended that Metro Schools hire 217 monitors to ride on the buses before and after school. It will cost the school district nearly $5 million.
The recommendation follows a NewsChannel 5 investigation that uncovered four sexual assaults on special education buses in the last two years.
Mayor Karl Dean has been demanding adult monitors for the buses. Board members are not sure where the money will come from and said they may have to make additional cuts to the budget to hire the monitors.
School officials said they are already advertising to fill the positions, but it will be nearly impossible to fill all positions by the time school starts.
"I feel that children, that the special-needs kids need more protection than children that are not," said Phyllis Brown, a Metro school bus driver.
Brown has driven a bus for special education students for five years.
She said she was heartbroken when NewsChannel 5 Investigates uncovered the series of sexual assaults on schools buses. She hoped the board would approve monitors.
"I try to watch my children on the back of my bus when I'm driving," she said. "I try to make sure everyone is safe, that everyone is protected. I mean, there are issues that go on the busses that a lot of people don't know."
"We do see it as a moral issue and a trust issue and it's also an expensive budgetary issue," said Metro School board member David Fox.
It will cost nearly $5 million in an extremely tight budget year, but the board seems determined to find ways to fund these new positions.
"Is it possible you would have to let people go to fill these positions?" asked NewsChannel 5 investigative reporter Ben Hall.
"It's a possibility. I don't think we are going to be looking in that direction necessarily," said necessarily," said Chris Hansen, acting Metro Schools director.
The district has already started advertising for the positions in expectation that the board would approve the monitors. But officials admitted filling more than 200 positions will not be easy.
School officials said they haven't filled current bus monitor positions.
Dean has made it clear he wants all the positions filled. It is now up to the entire school board to agree with the finance committee and fund the positions.