Three district school bus drivers addressed the Greenfield Exempted Village School District Board of Education at its Monday meeting over the state of the bus fleet, saying problems are more than minor in nature.
As previously reported, in mid-October most of Greenfield’s bus fleet was sidelined after a spot inspection by the Ohio State Highway Patrol. And to keep student transportation from being disrupted, GEVS Superintendent Joe Wills said spare buses were borrowed from the Hillsboro, Leesburg, Washington Court House, and Chillicothe school districts. He also said it was anticipated that all Greenfield school buses would be back in service within a couple weeks of that October inspection.
According to Wills at the time, the fleet had its mandatory yearly inspection in the summer months and all the buses had passed.
But bus driver Debbie Bobb, a district employee for 35 years, said Monday she has “never seen the buses in this bad of shape.” Bobb said that three buses are still out of service five weeks after the spot inspection.
She said concerns have been brought before the administration previously by the bus supervisor, but that she was reprimanded for doing so under the district’s previous superintendent and its current one.
Judy Earley, also a district bus driver, said the only thing that mattered was the safety of the children who ride the buses every day. She said the bus drivers “were serious about this” and school board members needed to see for themselves.
She said it wasn’t “little, minor problems” that hindered the fleet, but “severe safety hazards” like brakes, transmissions, and leaking fluids. She said it was too much for the district’s one mechanic to handle especially since the mechanic gets called out to fill in for other drivers at times.
“We need your help here” for the sake of children and their safety, Earley said.
Samantha Rayburn, another bus driver who said she had written a letter to the board last year over bus concerns, told board members that “safety should be the first priority.” She said she felt the whole matter “has been brushed under the rug” and she asked board members to come to the bus garage and have a look around for themselves.
All three bus drivers also cited the conditions of the bus garage. It’s too small, they said, “dilapidated” and a “health hazard.”
Another concerned citizen also addressed the board over concerns of the school buses and asked questions that included how much the bus issues were costing the district, who was responsible, and who was accountable. None of the questions were answered on Monday and no comment was offered by board members. But board president Doug Mustard said that the board appreciated the input of those who spoke, adding, “We will take it under serious advisement.”
On Tuesday, Wills said “things from the initial inspection have been addressed and we will continue to address concerns.” He later said, “We have not, nor will we, put a bus out that hasn’t passed inspection.”
He said that a short time after most of the fleet was taken out of service in October, he contacted the Ohio State Board of Education (OSBA) to have the agency perform a full transportation audit, which it has been doing, he said.
The purpose of asking for the services provided by the OSBA, Wills said, was to gain “another perspective … on the overall process of maintaining, preventative maintenance, and bus ordering for the future.”
“We took what happened very seriously,” Will said. “We wanted to be proactive moving forward.”
He said the board has already approved a second mechanic position and is working to fill it.
In other business, McClain Principal Jason Potts reported that anatomy and physiology students on Monday had taken a field trip to the University of Rio Grande to explore the school’s science programs. Rio Grande also fed the students lunch, Potts said. Another part of the day included seeing the “Bodies Revealed” exhibit, he said.
On other matters, the board approved the consent agenda which contained employee resignations for the purpose of retiring. Those employees retiring are: Melvin Gray Jr., maintenance; Mike Anderson, maintenance; Charles Hargrave, band director; and Patrick Stevens, athletic director.
Recommendations for employment as approved by the board of educations are: Travis Rayburn, bus driver; Beth Babbs, middle school aide; Amanda McCune, Greenfield Elementary aide; Michelle Foody, Rainsboro Elementary aide; Brittany Mullikin, Melody Kier, Cadie Cory, and Carla Anderson – substitute teachers; Shelbylyn Lightner and Lynn Coleman – classified substitutes; Nathan Luke, boys head track coach; Jacob Orr-Zody, girls head track coach; Steven Roble, boys track assistant; David Weaks, junior high track; Steve Roads, bowling; Howard Zody, winter weight room supervisor; Bob Bergstrom, track volunteer; Ed Bolender, head softball coach; Richie Bunner, head baseball coach; Tyler Carman, baseball assistant; Jennifer Highley, cheer assistant ninth grade basketball; Dylan Trefz, middle school wrestling; Erick Kegley, middle school wrestling.
The next meeting of the Greenfield Exempted Village School District is scheduled for Dec. 12 at 7 p.m. at the central office boardroom. The meeting is open to the public.
Reach Angela Shepherd at 937-393-3456, ext. 1681, or on Twitter @wordyshepherd.