PUTTING SAFETY FIRST: Pike County BOE purchases 13 new buses

Medical Leader | Photo by ROSALIND STANLEY | FIRST KEYS: Cliff Smallwood, second from right, receives the keys to the first of 13 new school buses purchased by the Pike County Board of Education. From left are District Transportation Director Ancie Casey, Board Member Ireland “Heavy” Blankenship, Assistant Superintendent Freddie Bowling, Smallwood and Board Member Kenneth “C.B.” Biliter.

PIKEVILLE — The Pike County Board of Education has taken a giant step to improve the safety of students being transferred to and from school.

Transportation Director Ancie Casey said the board recently approved the purchase of 13 new school buses, including five pusher unit which will be located at each of the county’s high schools.

“Every school year we talk about the need for new buses and improving the safety of our most precious cargo, our students,” Casey said. “The board came through and we are so excited about being able to put these new units on our highways.”

Casey said the pusher buses will be used to transport students back and forth from athletic events. They are equipped with luggage space below the seating area.

“We expect to have five units in operation around the first of February,” he said. “This will benefit our high school when having to travel on long trips, whether it’s athletics or academics.”

Casey said each county school bus driver is required to have more extensive training and certification than drivers of any other highway vehicle.

“We have a very dedicated group of drivers who travel our highways and terrain every day making sure our students get to school and back home with the highest regard for safety,” he added.

Casey noted that all 13 of the new units will be equipped with air conditioning. Currently seven units are in operation, including two that were used this week to transport the Shelby Valley High School boys and girls basketball teams to and from Frankfort for the All “A” Classic state basketball tournament.

The new buses are eight different sizes, that include seating for 66, 52 and 34 students.

“We wanted to make sure we covered all our needs when it comes to the number of students riding these units,” he said.

Older buses currently being used on county routes will be replaced in terms of age.

Parents and other members of the public can improve student safety by supporting school bus transportations. According to the American School Bus Council, based on research from several federal studies, travel by school bus is the safest way for students to get to and from school.

“We commend the board members and our superintendent for wanting to assure the safety of our students and bus operators,” Casey said. “We want to run a first-class operation in Pike County and I feel like we are taking the right steps to make that happen.”