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New school buses join the fleet in Morgan County

January 17, 2006|by TRISH RUDDER

trishr@herald-mail.com

BERKELEY SPRINGS, W.Va. - Three new International school buses have arrived in Morgan County, Superintendent of Schools David Temple told the Morgan County Board of Education recently.

Each bus costs about $76,000, but the money does not come from the Morgan County Schools budget, said Larry Omps, the board's president. They are purchased by the state and are paid for with state tax money, he said.

Tammy Painter, transportation superintendent for Morgan County Schools, told board members about the many features that make the buses more driver-friendly, she said.

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The buses have wider step wells and the steps are not as tall, which makes climbing them easier for smaller children, she said.

Other features include a one-piece windshield that enhances driver visibility and an internal intercom system with six speakers so everyone on the bus can hear the driver, she said.

The air door is controlled by a button on the steering wheel and is safer, she said. The new buses have automatic transmissions and are easier to drive.

The new buses are 6 inches higher inside and have acoustic ceilings, Painter said.

"It makes it much quieter and is a safety feature," she said.

When drivers park the new buses, they have to deactivate an alarm on the back of the bus. If they don't physically walk to the back and deactivate the alarm within a short period of time, the alarm will sound. This helps ensure no child is left on the bus, she said.

Painter said about 25 percent to 30 percent of the county school buses will be replaced with new buses. She said about 75 percent of the fleet consists of 6-year-old buses.

The three new buses will go to drivers based on job performance, accident reports and cleanliness of their buses, not on seniority, she said.

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