Cameras and p.a. systems in buses, multiple sports and activities driving over mountain passes, and propane-powered vehicles?
It can be a challenging time to run a school bus system. There are many facets to it.
The cameras and announcement systems are in almost all school buses and are a useful tool for discipline cases, said Jeff Whitmore, the transportation director for the Bayfield School District.
He addressed the Bayfield School Board on Tuesday, Jan. 27.
And while propane-powered buses are expensive to buy, they might be cheaper to operate in the long run and have no emissions. The district is considering purchasing one for local routes to see how it works. Reports from other districts are positive, so far.
The district owns 21 vehicles, Whitmore said, and buys two new vehicles every three years. The new buses get used as activity buses for games and events over Wolf Creek Pass and other long trips. As they get older, they are rotated into the pool of route buses that brings students to and from school every day. The district provides transportation for about 500 of the district's 1,300 students every day, operating seven routes.
The district is considering purchasing a smaller bus (30-passenger) to transport smaller teams or special education students, but they get about the same mileage as a regular vehicle, so there isn't a lot of savings, Whitmore said.
The district has $170,000 budgeted to buy two buses this year, along with another $5,000 for three more bus cameras and $600 for three more p.a. systems. The audio systems have three zones on the buses, so the driver can tell a kid to sit down without having to yell.
The cameras have saved both school officials and parents "a big huge headache," he said.
When a student takes something from another student and it's on tape, the parent who insists her child would do no such thing will believe the taped evidence.
Whitmore is the only school district official who can access the tapes, and only he and Superintendent Troy Zabel can view them.
Zabel agreed the cameras have improved safety and discipline problems on the buses.
Whitmore wants to make several improvements to the department, including having full-time drivers, providing drivers a break room, and revamping the discipline process.
He's in the process of being able to notify parents along bus routes if a bus is delayed via the district's parental notification system. He also wants to have the district's full-time drivers cross trained as members of the district's safety team.