New buses all due by first day of school

Published 12:00 am Monday, August 5, 2002

Vicksburg Warren School District school bus driving instructor Kevin Manton inspects district bus driver Sandra Carney as she parallel parks one of the district’s 15 new buses Thursday. Manton, who works all around the state testing school bus drivers during the summer, said that he has instructed more than 15 district drivers in the use of the new buses which require a class B commercial license with knowledge of how to use an air-powered brake system. Manton said that the air brakes on the new school buses allow for increased safety and lower maintenance, but are more sensitive.(The Vicksburg Post/C. Todd Sherman)

[08/03/02]Vicksburg Warren School District will have 15 new buses for use when school starts Aug. 12.

Former transportation director Jack Cooper, who retired earlier this year, said the district spent approximately $736,000 on the 2003 model buses.

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Cooper is serving as a consultant for the school district this summer, training transportation personnel on the software used to create bus routes.

Cooper said seven of the new buses equipped with air brakes, white tops to keep the buses cooler and automatic doors have already been delivered and the rest are due a couple of days before school starts.

Cooper said while the school district is short two primary drivers, the main problem will be a shortage of substitute drivers.

“We have people to cover all the routes,” Cooper said, “The biggest problem is not having enough sub drivers.”

Cooper said there are not any new route changes in the works, just minor adjustments.

“We are waiting as long as possible before finalizing all the routes and stops, because students are still enrolling,” Cooper said.

“The bus drivers will be given their schedule before the school starts and they will drive over the routes and make adjustments on the way,” he said.

Tommy Gordon, assistant transportation supervisor, said more than 190 routes were planned with 130 buses.

“Some of the buses double on the routes to maximize our buses,” Gordon said, “Last year we transported 7,500 students, twice a day.”

Cooper said the main changes are in the unloading and loading zones at Vicksburg High and Beechwood Elementary.

“We’ve moved the bus parking unload zone from the front of the building to the side of the building and we’ve moved the Vicksburg High bus unload to the Confederate Street side,” Cooper said.

Cooper said these unload changes will keep the bus traffic out of the car traffic and will be safer for students.

Cooper said his biggest concern for the new school year was the construction on Mission 66.

“We don’t know how long the construction is going to last,” Cooper said, “We have about 30 buses that travel to and from the two schools there, twice in the morning and twice in the afternoon.”

Randy Shelton, vice president of APAC Mississippi Inc., said they hope to begin paving Mission 66 next week.

“That’s a heavy section for school traffic,” Shelton said, “We hope to get that section done and get out of the way before school starts.”

Joe Adams, who has replaced Cooper as transportation director, offered some tips for parents.

“It is a good idea for parents to check on students’ bus routes and school schedules before school starts and make sure the younger students know their address and phone number to help identify the students just in case they get on the wrong bus route and end up at the wrong school,” he said.