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It takes a Baer to organize school bus routes in Waynesboro

Construction zones, detours complicate an already difficult job

August 18, 2010|By BILL KOHLER
  • Missie Baer, maintenance and transportation coordinator for the Waynesboro Area School District for the last five years, is busy this time of year as she makes sure that more than 3,300 students have rides to and from the district's schools, and St. Andrew Catholic School.
Bill Kohler,

WAYNESBORO, Pa. -- Driving a car around the Waynesboro area this summer has been a challenge. So imagine driving a school bus.

Or worse yet, imagine the task of coordinating several dozen school buses through construction zones and around detours.

Welcome to Missie's world.

Missie Baer, maintenance and transportation coordinator for the Waynesboro Area School District for the last five years, is busy this time of year as she makes sure that more than 3,300 students have rides to and from the district's schools, and St. Andrew Catholic School.

"Everyone wants to make sure their kids are going to be on the right buses," Baer said this week from her office in the district's administration building.

The school assignments and bus listings were announced last week, but that doesn't mean things will slow down the next few weeks.

During a 15-minute span Monday (two weeks before classes start for Waynesboro's nearly 4,200 public school students), she received four voice-mail messages.

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Baer said she gets lots of last-minute calls from parents who moved and didn't inform the school district or who changed day care or baby-sitters.

"Everybody gets a phone call back," she said. "It might be 8 o'clock at night, but everybody gets a call no matter how busy I get."

What made Baer's work more challenging this summer was the spate of roadwork and bridge closings that have tormented drivers from one end of the community to the other. It's hard to drive through Washington and Quincy townships without seeing orange roadwork signs.

In the borough, crews have been repaving a handful of streets and doing utility work on others, including busy Main Street. Bridges remain closed on Mont Alto Road, Marsh Road, Pa. 316 South (Wayne Highway) and Pa. 997 (Anthony Highway).

"It's been difficult with rerouting buses, but thankfully, they waited till summer to do most of the construction," she said.

Baer said the biggest challenge was the bridge replacement project on Pa. 997 north of the borough. That's a major artery for traffic coming into Waynesboro, especially buses bringing in secondary students from the Quincy and Mont Alto, Pa., areas.

"I notified (district officials) that buses might be detained coming from those areas," she said.

Baer said most of the bridge and construction projects are supposed to be complete by the end of September.

"This is the worst year I've seen because everything is being done at once," she said. "At least it's temporary."

Baer said the key to making it work is her relationship with the seven contractors who own, maintain and drive the district school buses.

"My contractors know what I need and are very cooperative," she said. "They are great to work with."

Baer said parents should get their children to the bus stop five to 10 minutes early every morning and talk to them about bus rules.

"It's always safety first," she said.

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