The DeKalb County School System has two new buses in the fleet.
Peggy Pursell, Transportation Manager, says one them is a 54 passenger bus which will serve as a special education/regular ed bus on routes in the Holmes Creek/Cookeville Highway areas while the other is a 90 passenger, which will replace a 78 passenger bus on a route in the Blue Springs/Bethel area.
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The new buses, which were ordered earlier this year, have just arrived. According to Pursell,the special ed bus (#42) has already passed inspection and is now ready for the road while bus #24 is to be inspected and should be in service by later this week. "I'm glad we've got them. We ordered them in March. We've been waiting for them and we're just real fortunate to have them. Bus #11-42 is our special ed bus and we certainly were needing that bus because the one we're taking off the road has been on for several years. The air conditioner had gone out on that bus so we really needed this new bus. It's (#11-42) is the biggest special ed bus we've got now. It's a 54 passenger and it came equipped with temporary seats that we can set out with the tracks for the wheelchairs. So we can take seats out, put seats in as we need to. Right now we have one wheel chair on that bus so we took two seats out to accommodate that one wheel chair. We had to get that sized bus (54 passenger) because this bus is doing double duty as a special ed bus and a regular ed bus. Karen Adkins will be driving that bus (#11-42) and Freda Johnson is the aid assistant. All our special ed buses have aid assistants on them to care for the children."
Pursell says the new 90 passenger bus is larger than the one it is replacing, but since these buses are good for up to fifteen years, it can accommodate more students should there be more growth in population. "Bus #11-24 is a 90 passenger and it will run the route in the Blue Springs/Bethel area. Melissa Hicks will be driving that bus. We had a 78 passenger bus on that route but we replaced it with this 90 passenger bus because our county is growing and we want to be ready for it. This is also a fifteen year bus. In fact all these new buses we're ordering have to last fifteen years so we want to be ready for our routes to grow when more people move into our county."
Before they are put into service, Pursell says all buses are checked out at the school bus garage and then they must undergo a state inspection. "All buses have to be inspected before we put them on the road. Our shop foreman, Mr. Orlando (Guzman) inspects them first and then we get the tags, registration and everything on them. I then call Mr. Ronnie McBride who is our state inspector. He comes and makes sure everything is right on the buses and puts the state sticker on them that says these buses are ready to roll. Then we can put them on the road."
Pursell adds that more new buses will be ordered next year. "In January we will be getting specs together to order new buses. We order every year in order not to have a situation where we have to order a whole lot of buses in one year, because if you do you've got a bad situation."
The two buses being taken out of daily service can still be used as substitute buses until they turn fifteen years old. Then they have to be retired from service.
The school system has a total of forty five buses in the fleet including substitute buses to run about thirty routes in the county. Five of the buses are classified as special education buses.