Story by Regan Mertz
During the 2016-2017 school year, there were 6,043 students enrolled in the Waynesville R-VI School District, according to the U.S. Department of Education National Center for Education Statistics.
A majority of those students relied on school transportation.
“The school district has approximately 4,400 students who depend on our department,” said Karl Wilking, Waynesville R-VI School District Transportation director.
More than 72 percent of K-12 students enrolled in the Waynesville R-VI School District utilize bus transportation every year for a variety of purposes.
“The school district provides a service to our parents in helping to get their children safely to and from school. Beyond daily student transportation, our schools use our buses for Club Tiger, field trips, athletic and academic competitions and shuttles between schools,” Wilking said.
The Waynesville R-VI School District is approximately 172 square miles. Within the school district, there are nine schools that are serviced by bus transportation and school bus drivers, he said.
The school bus drivers are also responsible for transporting students to places outside of the school district.
“We travel anywhere from Springfield, St. Louis, Kansas City, Joplin, Columbia, Jefferson City and other towns in Missouri. We have also traveled out of the state of Missouri,” Wilking said.
Due to the expansive radius that the school bus drivers must cover every school year, the buses must undergo multiple inspections throughout the year to ensure student safety.
“Bus inspections are completed throughout the year. Drivers inspect their buses (daily) before they go out on runs and after they return,” Wilking said. “Our department also has a fueling crew that fuels and inspects buses for issues every time the bus is fueled.”
The Missouri Highway Patrol is also involved with the inspection and upkeep of the Waynesville R-VI school buses.
“The Missouri Highway Patrol spot inspects 10 percent of our fleet in September and inspects all buses in our fleet during April,” he said. “Any issues that are found by the driver or mechanics are fixed immediately and if the bus needs to be put out of service to complete the work, it is put out of service.”
The Bus Mechanics and Summer Cleaning Staff are responsible for preparing the buses before every school year. It takes three months to get the buses ready.
According to Wilking, the Bus Mechanics and Summer Cleaning Staff have received the Missouri Highway Patrol Fleet of Excellence Award for scoring 98.5 percent on their bus inspections.
They have also received the Missouri Department of Secondary and Elementary Education Award for scoring 90 percent or above for 19 consecutive years.
“We take pride in having our buses being recognized for safety,”Wilking said.
In addition to the buses, the school bus drivers must also be prepared and trained every year.
“Bus drivers attend first aid training and must pass school bus driver physicals annually. They also attend back to school workshops to review policies and procedures, receive job specific training and additional safety training. Training continues regularly throughout the school year,” Wilking said.
The Waynesville School District is continually looking for school bus drivers throughout the year.
For more information, visit www.waynesville.k12.mo.us and click on the “Departments” tab and then click on “Personnel/Human Resources” or call 573.842.2094.