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WELD COUNTY, Colo. -- A video shows a student trying to squeeze through the aisle of a crowded school bus as one kid shouts, "he's already sitting there." Parents shared the video and several photos with Contact7 to show what they believe is overcrowding on a Weld RE-4 school bus.
"She gets home and she says we can’t sit on the bus, there’s nowhere to sit. She says we had kids sitting in the aisles," said Donna Montes, a concerned mother.
Her daughter, Savannah Montes, said it's hard to find a seat on the bus because her stop is the last one. Then she showed a picture of a girl who she said was sitting on the floor of the bus.
"I took this photo and it does show that there’s a 6th grader crouching down in the aisle because she was sitting four to a seat and there was nowhere else to sit," explains the 8th grade student at Severance Middle School.
Montes and her daughter are not the only ones taking issue with the number of students on the bus. Katie Villines said her 7th grade son, Logan, rides the same bus and he tells a similar story.
"He said the same thing, that it was three to a seat, sometimes they do four to a seat, and you know, it’s not one size fits all, he’s a big kid and walking on the bus at the end -- it’s uncomfortable and it can be embarrassing when you can’t find a seat," said Villines.
The district's Chief Operating Officer, Jason Seybert, released the following statement:
We are aware of the complaint and are taking this situation very seriously. Student safety is our first priority. Under no circumstances would any child in our district be allowed to sit on the floor of a bus while it was moving.
Seybert went on to say the bus capacity is 78 students and the number on that specific route has remained below 70. He said the district will continue looking into the matter and will talk with the driver. He added that the district is growing at a rapid rate and due to that growth they are constantly looking at the number of students who ride the bus.
That answer isn't good enough for Montes. She wishes she could drive her daughter to school but she works, so the bus is the only option.
"Why can’t he ride the bus in the mornings to see? If he doesn’t believe there’s overcrowding, ride the bus, get on the bus with these kids, and see how they have to sit, see how uncomfortable they are," said Montes.
After this story aired and was published online Tuesday, Seybert, the Chief Operating Officer of Weld RE-4, sent a letter to district families about the story:
"We want to make you aware that one of Denver's news stations reported on allegations of an overcrowded bus in our school district. We are aware of the complaint and are taking it very seriously. Student safety is our first priority. As you know, we are very sensitive to growing enrollment in our district. We are committed to ensuring that we keep students engaged and safe, including on our buses.
"We want to assure you that under no circumstances would any child be allowed to sit on the floor of a bus while it is moving. While the complaint is associated with overcrowding, the bus route in question has the capacity to transport 78 passengers but, since school started, has transported between 70 to 48 students.
"When it comes to transportation, just like all areas of district operations, we are constantly looking at capacity numbers; if additional routes are needed they will be added."