Live blog Thursday: Hammond’s holds forum on school bus safety

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A week after a New Orleans City Council forum on school transportation safety, one of the city’s busing companies is holding its own public meeting on the same topic.

The Hammond’s Transportation forum will take place at KIPP New Orleans Leadership Academy, 2300 St. Claude Ave., at 6 p.m. Thursday. I will live-blog the meeting below.

Hammond’s provides bus service for about 20 schools in New Orleans, including Akili Academy and Paul Habans Charter School. On Feb. 3, Akili first-grader Shaud Wilson died after being hit by a car as he ran across a four-lane street to his bus stop. A day later, a car struck and injured Habans third-grader Desean Denis after he exited a Hammond’s bus and began to cross a residential street.

The company said in a news release that the purpose of the forum is to “discuss and address transportation concerns the community may have and to brainstorm ideas for improving student safety of all schools.”

In an interview Friday, Hammond’s operations manager D’Juan Thompson said Hammond’s was not informed of last week’s City Council forum, which was organized by Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell.

Cantrell spokesman David Winkler-Schmit said the office focused on decision-makers — mostly educators — and didn’t specifically invite bus companies.

At that forum, city officials and educators discussed the possibility of centralizing school transportation to improve safety and streamline costs.

Right now, the city’s 40-odd charter groups individually contract with Hammond’s and other private bus companies. Some schools provide bus tokens instead. This year schools budgeted about $30 million for transportation, up from about $18 million for the 2004-05 school year, according to a Lens analysis.

Officials also discussed increasing the number of crossing guards at schools and installing more traffic cameras near school zones.

Live blog

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