The Canfield bus fleet is ready to role for the start of the 2012-13 school year. The fleet will include two new buses and two used buses that were purchased at a good rate.
Canfield School District Business Manager Rich Archer said the fleet just went through the annual state inspection. He said all the buses passed and the inspection only took one day.
"The only way that could happen is by having a fleet of well-maintained buses," Archer said.
He credited Transportation Director Dan Richards and his staff of mechanics. He said they work hard every day to ensure the buses are running good and are safe for students to ride in.
Over the summer, the district ordered two new buses at a cost of $161,000. School district Treasurer Pattie Kesner said the funds came out of the permanent improvement funds.
Two other buses were purchased from United Local School District. Both are used but have less that 100,000 miles on them. Archer said they are both in excellent condition and together, only cost the district $9,000.
One other addition to the fleet this year are pre-heaters. Archer said the district got a grant last year to place the heaters in the entire fleet. He said the way it works is that the buses are warmed up ahead of time, hours before the buses have to hit the road in the morning.
"The students will be riding on warmer buses this winter with the pre-heaters installed," Archer said.
Besides offering more comfort for the students, the pre-heaters will also save the district on fuel costs. Since the buses are already warm when the drivers arrive, they won't have to idle them for long periods to get them warmed up.
"The nice thing is that it is at no cost to us," Archer said. "The grant covered everything."
When the buses do roll, they will be heading to some different stops from last year. Archer said the goal was to move stops to locations where parents would be watching. Some stops that were located in remote places have been adjusted so they are in front of a home where a student will be getting on. The idea behind that is the stop will be visible to a parent.
The bus schedule won't change as the district has to abide by state mandates. According to school board member Craig Olson, the district must meet the times for schools outside the district.
"Starting times are specific because the state says we have to transport parochial kids," Olson said.
To do that means getting those kids to their respective buildings on time.
"The schools we transport to dictate our starting times," Archer said. "We have to work around them."
As in past years, there are some residents who question why the buses don't come down cul-de-sacs. Archer said there are 105 cul-de-sacs in the district and many have vehicles parked around them, making it hard for a bus to maneuver.
Also like last year, Archer will have the authority of the school board to make adjustments to the stops as needed.
The last concern is safety. Motorists will soon have to adjust to seeing the school zone lights on and seeing the flashing bus lights and stop sign. It is a concern for the district as well as local law enforcement, including the Ohio Highway Patrol.
"Although drivers of all vehicles are required to stop for a school bus when it is stopped to load or unload passengers, children should not rely on them to do so," said Col. John Born, Ohio Highway Patrol superintendent. "Children exiting the bus should always stop and look both ways before crossing the street and remain alert to any sudden traffic changes."
He said motorists need to plan ahead and allow extra time for these school bus stops. Motorists are urged to exercise patience and never pass a stopped school bus. Additionally motorists need to watch out for children walking to and from the bus stop when they are backing out of a garage or driveway.