By Sue Moore
Vicksburg school buses covered a total of 363,099 miles to bring the future generation of students to their buildings for an education in the year 2015-16, Karen McKinstry, director of transportation told the school board in August.
That’s more than 14 times the distance around the world, if anyone’s counting. “We travel lots of miles in a year and I’m thankful to report we only had one minor incident on the road with no passengers involved, with no traffic citation because of fault.”
She also noted that as a new director of transportation last November, she came to the job when things were working well already, giving her time to evaluate and determine if staff would be open to new ideas. “I learned that the drivers were attentive to detail, had great commitment to the students and the department. Not a day goes by without parents calling in to make changes. The drivers take it all in stride and continue to be professional and make adjustments as the year goes on.”
“We actually transported students 550,000 times, coming and going. We had four buses running in and out of Kalamazoo to the Math and Science Center, EFE and EFA programs. Three buses run to Woods Edge for special education. For athletic events and special trips, the buses traveled 29,568 miles,” she said.
“This district is very accommodating to our families. It is important to us to help make getting to school as easy as we can. I do recommend that we bring that flexibility into protecting our children from human error by requiring more communication from parents that have weekly changes in their child’s transportation needs,” she told the board.
On winter days, after she and the administrators make sure the roads are safe, the 21 bus drivers report for duty and make pre-trip inspections. “Our mechanics, Al Reynolds and Bob VanderStraaten, make sure that safety is the top priority to ensure the buses are in safe and in working order. Linda VanderStraaten, the administrative assistant who has been with the department for over 20 years, has everything under control. If I have a question, she has an answer. She is like the mother hen to all of us.”
McKinstry showed her sense of humor and playfulness when she went armed with a squirt gun to the Indian Lake elementary for the last day of school and its annual water fight. “My recommendation is to not go there on the last day of school unless you have a better supply of ammunition than I had with a squirt gun,” she said with a chuckle – while showing a photo of the kids showering her.