Enveloped in the new bus smell, Greenfield Exempted Village School Board members were treated to a tour of and a ride on one of the district’s two newest buses. They also heard a detailed report from district transportation and safety director Bradley George at Thursday’s board meeting.
The school board voted earlier this year to purchase the two new buses, which were delivered this summer and are ready to begin transporting students.
Prior to Thursday’s school board meeting, George had one of the new buses parked on Fifth Street awaiting the arrival of school board members, who each stepped onto the bus and heard about some of the safety features before George took board members on a short ride.
To name a few, the safety features on the bus include a back-up camera that appears in the left side of the oversized rear view mirror; multiple cameras within the bus itself that together cover all areas, flashing grill and bumper lights similar to those found on emergency vehicles, but smaller and begin flashing when the stop sign on the bus is engaged; LED lighting on the outside to help illuminate turns in the dark; fog lights on the front; and a button on the interior of the bus at the back that has to be pushed before the driver can exit, ensuring that the driver has walked the length of the bus after children have been dropped off, making sure that there are no children left behind.
Once the school board meeting was in session, George provided members with a detailed report that included statistical information and updates on how the transportation department is moving forward.
He said that in the state of Ohio on any given school day there are about 15,000 school buses traveling around one million miles and carrying approximately 900,000 students. Greenfield’s share of that is about 15 route buses per day, traveling 1,853 miles across the district, and carrying an average of 781 students.
Last school year, the transportation department “transported or arranged transportation for 491 extracurricular trips, traveling 34,054 miles and for 2,449 hours,” George said.
Updates included that a new fuel management system was put in place at the beginning of the year that allows for proper monthly tracking of fuel. George said that from Jan. 1 through June 30, the department used 20,389 gallons of diesel fuel, averaging out to 3,398 gallons per month. He said the district buses currently average about 8.31 miles per gallon.
The report also detailed other improvements like reorganizing the bus garage, replacing old equipment, implementing digital record keeping, the addition of a “daily special needs route to better accommodate students,” and the creation of specifications to aid in new bus purchases and to better control parts and inventory.
The transportation director also discussed the use of new software that allows for the tracking of bus routes, time, capacity percentage, and distance traveled. The software is also linked to the school’s student information so that adding or removing a student on a particular bus route is more efficient. George added that the technology also allows for route information for a student to be readily available to school staff.
George said he has received comments from people about seeing buses with just a few students on them. He said that in a district as big as Greenfield’s, “that is going to happen” because the “time factor” has to be considered. The goal is to have a kid on and off a bus within an hour, though George said he would like to see that at no more than 50 minutes.
As for the state of the fleet, George said the “day to day is good. We have good sub buses and good trip buses.”
George noted the morale of the drivers is high, that he sees pride and smiles. He said there was a “sense of comradery again.”
“We have a great group of drivers,” he said, adding that it was about “giving them the resources and the support” to do their job.
In other business, Ron Diver, a regional manager of the Ohio School Boards Association (OSBA) presented board members with a plaque commemorating their achievement as an effective school board, a recognition the board has received every year since the award began a decade ago.
It is a recognition belonging to the OSBA Southwest Region, Diver said, based on an A-Z checklist that is meant to help school boards make sure they are doing all they can to make their district successful.
According to Superintendent Joe Wills, on the criteria for the recognition there are nearly 30 categories and documentation is required on several of them.
On another matter, the board, through the approval of its consent agenda, accepted the resignation of Greenfield Middle School Intervention Specialist Jessica Gilliland.
Employment recommendations approved by the board were Alexandra Vesey, kindergarten teacher; Kenneth W. Clifford, bus driver; Jeremy Andrews, social studies department leader; Drew Hamilton, eighth grade girls basketball and girls assistant golf coach; Randy Abbott, seventh grade boys basketball; Kendra Barnes, seventh grade volleyball; Audra Branham, girls basketball assistant; Lynn Coleman, boys basketball assistant; Jennifer Highley, cheerleading assistant and junior class adviser; Owen O’Connor, seventh grade football; Elizabeth Pitzer, volleyball assistant; Troy Seely, eighth grade boys basketball; Nick Beatty, football volunteer; Sierra Houser, volleyball volunteer; and Bob Bergstrom, football volunteer.
The Greenfield Exempted Village Board of Education is scheduled to meet in regular session next on Aug. 20 at 7 p.m. in the central office boardroom. The meeting is open to the public.
Angela Shepherd is a stringer for The Times-Gazette.