Better Buses For DeSoto

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(DeSoto County, MS) While some other districts have had serious start-up troubles this year, we’ve hardly heard a thing about trouble in DeSoto County.

School transportation Director John Caldwell says there’s a good explanation.

"Well, I think it’s the smoothest start-up we’ve had in the nine years I’ve been here."

He credits good, experienced bus drivers for his success, and support from the school board.

But this former Marine colonel brought a new discipline to the job and some high tech advantages, like a computerized routing system.

”It helps with routing. It helps with changes in particular. It helps us avoid some overcrowding."

Over the last few years, problems have popped up less and less.

DeSoto County has a bus fleet of more than 400 buses traveling to more than 40 schools. The district minimizes problems by regularly replacing old buses with newer models.

Monday night School leaders voted to spend just under $3 million on 30 new buses, replacing about ten percent of the fleet.

”We’re getting cleaner buses. They’re safer. Every year they put new safety features in and so, fuel mileage is better."

The district will also get eight air-conditioned “trip” buses.

”This gives us buses we can dedicate to these trips. A little bit of leg room for the big football players or the band instruments there are some luggage features they have on these buses too."

They’ll look like regular school buses, and can fill in if one comes off the road for mechanical trouble.

”Most dangerous thing we can have is a bus broken down on the side of the road."

That, and keeping them running on time, remain among his toughest challenges.