Transportation system keeps students moving
Posted: Friday, August 13, 2010 9:30 pm
By JOHN BRANNON
In terms of public education, these numbers are important to Larry Parks of the Crystal community: 44-2400-43-8-2.
As transportation director of Obion County School System, Parks is responsible for 44 school buses that transport about 2,400 students over 43 routes to eight schools twice a day, Monday through Friday.
The school system has a total of 60 buses, each with a capacity of 66 to 78. Sixteen of the buses are kept in reserve.
As you might imagine, each of those buses requires a driver, each of whom has a Class D or better commercial driver’s license (CDL). A reserve force of eight reserve drivers provides temporary replacements as needed.
“We have drivers from age 28 up to age 70,” Parks said. “We have them take a physical (examination) each year, and after they reach age 60, twice a year. We have a great group of drivers. They communicate with me, we work together. The key focus for all of them is doing what is safest for the children.
“We appreciate the care and concern our drivers have for the students they haul. They put the students first.”
The Big 4
In the everyday scheme of things in the school system’s transportation program, another very important number is the number 4 — a crew of four that keeps the big fleet running.
The crew consists of shop foreman Tim Maynard and mechanics Mickey Lyle, Herbert Goodman and Seth Lofton.
The crew applies its skills at the county bus garage and transportation headquarters in Troy.
“We are hauling precious cargo on these buses,” Parks said.
“We want to keep the buses in good shape and keep good drivers and maintenance men. I want to say, ‘Thank you’ to all of them for doing a good job.”
Parks said the overall inventory of vehicles includes automobiles, pickups, minivans, a dump truck, even a tractor-trailer capable of hauling a school bus.
“We have a truck that we got two years ago that can lift air conditioners and compressors to the top of buildings,” he said. “Its boom is 37 feet long. We use it to trim trees or change parking lot lights. It’s a truck that Union City Electric had for a while. They bought a new one, so we bought this one from them.”
Parks asks the general public to be concerned about students and school buses that make daily rounds to and from school.
He said there is a problem, not just locally but nationwide, of people being distracted and not paying attention to school buses. “Maybe they’re talking on a cell phone or texting while driving,” he said. “Well, you can run under a school bus faster than you can imagine. When you see a school bus, don’t think you have to get around it or in front of it. Remember, when the amber lights come on, that’s a warning the bus is about to come to a full stop.
“When the red lights come on, the bus is at full stop and a prominent stop sign is deployed. Stay there until all the lights go off and the bus continues on its route,” he said.
Published in The Messenger 8.13.10