In one South Carolina school district, officials are hoping that soothing music will drastically change the mood on school buses.
Over the past few months, officials at the Horry County School District have installed elaborate audio systems in 10 of the district’s 373 school buses. The systems play calming music, messages from school principals and alerts updating students on the bus’ location.
According to the Sun News, the sounds heard on audio-equipped buses are “reminiscent of those heard in trams and buses at Walt Disney World.”
Students on select buses experienced the audio on the first day of school Thursday.
The aim of the audio is to calm students, as buses are often hotbeds of rowdiness and bad behavior, the Sun News reports. The district installed audio systems in the buses that previously reported the most behavior issues.
"Traditionally, school buses are pretty hostile environments," Jim Wright, the district’s director of transportation told USA Today. "We're hoping that by changing the environment and the surroundings that it will improve their mood on the bus and be a little more calm during the bus route."
According to Michael Martin, executive director of the National Association of Pupil Transportation, the district is the first in the nation to initiate such a program, USA Today reports.
"This seems to make a lot of sense, so I'll be very interested to see how it works," he told the outlet. "It's like having another adult on the bus, a monitor, only this is doing it with technology."
Randy Stringer, a district employee who trains bus drivers, told MyHorryNews.com that he thinks that calming music will have a positive impact the mood of school buses.
“I was a bus driver for more than three years, and I think this will help with the environment,” he said. “It will help the bus drivers a lot and will hopefully put the students more at ease.”
District Superintendent Cindy Elsberry said she hopes the system will allow bus drivers to focus more on the road instead of the students.
“If a child is on the back of the bus, it takes a lot to reach that child,” she told the outlet. “The audio recording will remove the need for the bus driver to yell and hopefully will change the environment on the bus. The elevator style music, studies have shown, helps calm people, and we hope that will happen on the buses, too.”
The audio systems come at a cost of $1,500 per bus. Wright told USA Today he plans to check if behavior issues are decreasing on the buses every nine weeks. If the program is effective, he hopes to install audio systems in more of the district’s buses.