PARKERSBURG - School buses in Wood County are ready to roll.
Richard Lance, director of transportation for Wood County Schools, said mechanics and bus drivers alike have been busy during the summer months preparing for the new school year.
"We've been going through all the buses, doing routine summer maintenance on the buses," Lance said. The drivers "have to recertify their licenses, and they are taking their annual physicals as part of that recertification."
Photo by Michael Erb
A line of Wood County Schools buses sit in front of the district’s bus garage waiting for the start of the new school year.
Keeping the buses in good running condition also is a priority. Lance said maintenance can range from engine repairs and oil changes to touching up paint jobs or even replacing the worn-out floor in one bus.
"We're doing a bit of everything," he said. "And summertime is the time to do it."
Lance said the pressure is on to have everything ready for Aug. 23, the first day of school for students.
"It really puts a rush on our mechanics to get all the buses in and get them out," he said. The buses "have to be certified by the state" before they are back out on the road and transporting students.
The number of students using Wood County Schools buses has steadily increased over the last several years. More than 11,000 of the district's 13,284 students are eligible to ride the bus. In 2008, about 9,800 students rode the bus. In 2009, the number increased to about 9,900.
During the 2009-10 school year, the district transported about 10,500 students, and that number is expected to continue to increase.
More than a half-dozen new buses have been purchased by the school system, and Lance said those vehicles will join the district's fleet shortly after the start of the school year.
For the most part Wood County Schools bus routes this fall will remain unchanged from last year.
"There make be some tweaks here and there, but it is pretty much the same as last year," Lance said.
A full listing of bus routes will be published Aug. 15 by The Parkersburg News and Sentinel. The routes also will be posted online at the district's website at www.woodcountyschoolswv.com.