01/18/13 Keeping track of 33 school buses, overseeing 28 bus routes, and scheduling buses and vans for way over 1,000 extra-curricular runs for the Plymouth Schools keeps Rick Scott , transportation director, and Brenda Uceny, assistant to the directors of transportation and maintenance , extremely busy. According to Scott, Plymouth School buses carry some 1,600-1,800 children each day.
Scott has been with the Transportation Department for almost 31 years. He said, “We have excellent drivers and many of them have been driving for many years.” Among those who have driven routes for several decades are Fran Davidson, who has been driving since November, 1973 and Loretta Tener, since August, 1974.
Now, Scott is on the lookout for new drivers and/or substitutes since two drivers retired near the end of 2012 and three more plan to retire at the end of the current school year. Scott said there are several steps to becoming a certified driver. He said, “Once the school corporation receives an application, we obtain an extended criminal background check, a driving history, and references.” Next, perspective drivers must pass a drug screening and CDL physical. Scott said they must then have a pre-trip test, a maneuvering test and a driving test in order to receive CDL certification that is a mandatory federal requirement. Up and beyond the federal requirements Indiana requires a three-day seminar on school bus safety and emergency planning, four hours of observations, and eight hours of driving time with a certified driver. Once they pass those tests, candidates receive a standard certificate, commonly known as a “yellow card”.
To be hired by the Plymouth Schools, drivers must perform at least five runs for the corporation. Scott said, “Once they have met the requirements, they are eligible for a stipend to help cover the costs of the tests.”
Every bus in the Plymouth Schools is equipped with video monitoring. He said the buses have a VCR, hard drive or a photo clip. He said, “The videos are a protection for both the drivers and the kids.”
Carol Anders Correspondent