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School bus service rates tops in St. Charles

STACEY PLAISANCE / L’Observateur / September 16, 1998

HAHNVILLE – Due to concern and interest in the safety and status of St. Charles Parish school buses, Director of Transportation Gary Martin addressed the School Board at its regular meeting Wednesday with a report outlining accident statistics over the past 10 years.

Martin’s report gave bus transportation route accident statistics from 1988-89 to 1997-98. Since 1988, only three bus accidents were reporteddue to mechanical failure, and Martin said every accident must be reported, even if there is no damage. The total number of bus accidentsreported per year ranges from eight to 18.

The three bus accidents caused by mechanical failure in the past 10 years occurred in more than 7.6 million miles traveled.”About 85 percent of the students in the parish are transported by buses to school,” Martin said. “This is higher than in many other parishes.”Currently, more than 1.5 million students are transported via school busesto school annually, and bus drivers make more than 500 trips daily. Busmileage for 1997-98 was 712,448, a decrease from 1988-89 which was 832,444 miles.

Student injuries induced by bus accidents range from one to five per year, with the exception of 1996-97 in which 14 injury reports were filed.

There were 17 bus accidents that year, none caused by mechanical failure of the school buses.

According to Martin’s statistics, in St. Charles Parish one bus accidentoccurs for every 5,169 route trips, and there is one injury for every 195,391 miles.

According to student, parent and community opinion surveys, all categories agree that transportation services to and from school meet the needs of the students, and they agree that students feel safe traveling to and from school.

In other business, the board: Authorized the bidding of 10 school buses. The school districtcontinually needs buses, and board members said the Bus Replacement Plan must continue to be implemented in order to meet present and future needs cost effectively. It was also stated that it is more cost effectivefor the school system to own the bus fleet rather than other available options.

Announced the current enrollment in parish schools at 10,346 students, “but I still think it will go up more,” Superintendent Rodney Lafon said.

“We’re not done yet.”Noted the parish’s ranking relative to state and national averages for budget finances devoted to classroom instruction. The parish percentagefor instruction is 73.41 percent, and both state and national averages areat 71.76 percent.Accepted the bids on janitorial supplies, as schools not presently on custodial contracts are provided janitorial supplies through the purchasing warehouse as supplies are needed for the upkeep of buildings.

Identified several items as surplus and authorized the advertisement for the sale of these items. Surplus items include: Fifty-five Motorola under-dash two-way radios, school buses (1976-83 models), maintenance trucks (1976-83 models), cars (1979-83 models) and tractors (Farmall’s and Cubs, 1957-71 models). It was stated that these items are no longeruseable or appropriate, and they are difficult to maintain.

Approved the local plan for extenuating circumstances with Louisiana Assistance and Assessment Program. Bulletin 1943, of the StateDepartment of Education, requires that the local educational agency develop and adopt a local contingency plan.

Accepted the substitute bus driver pay rate per hour at $11.74. Statelaw requires that substitute bus drivers receive a minimum of 65 percent of the driver’s hourly rate for which they are substituting. It was statedat the Board meeting that this formula creates confusion for potential substitute bus drivers as to their actual pay rate. The $11.74 set hourlyrate meets these state requirements.

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