06/08/13 — Buses, priority: School board, district should not accept any excuses

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Buses, priority: School board, district should not accept any excuses

Parents of children in the Wayne County Schools -- and the school board -- should be appalled by the news that the district's bus fleet received one of the worst scores in the state.

And they have every right to demand that action be taken immediately -- no matter how many mechanics there are or how hard they are to find.

The good news is that the superintendent and the school board seem to already be on the ball -- demanding, and receiving, a plan of action from Transportation Director Raymond Smith.

And that is exactly what should have happened -- only it should have happened before the scores became public knowledge.

But just having a plan is not enough. Not when the safety of children -- and those who drive the buses -- is involved.

This is a concern that must be taken seriously and action must be taken swiftly.

The school board must hold Smith -- and

Dr. Steven Taylor -- accountable -- and demand regular updates until the buses meet a reasonable standard as determined by state inspections.

That should be Job 1.

After that, the goal should be to determine what is needed in the bus garage -- more supplies, more training, more technicians or whatever the resource is that is lacking.

And Smith should be asked to offer more information as well -- what leadership role does he need to take, what resources does he need to ask for, what personnel are needed to make Wayne County's fleet one of the safest in the state.

Then, he must be expected to meet that standard -- and be given the materials to do so.

And while they are talking about how to make sure this problem is taken care of in the future, perhaps there needs also to be a discussion about what it will take to attract and to keep bus drivers.

Transporting children is an extremely important job -- as is maintaining the buses they ride on. This is not a secondary issue or one that can wait.

We trust that the school board and superintendent will keep a close eye on not only the analysis of what happened, but also on the steps that are taken to ensure it never happens again.

Published in Editorials on June 8, 2013 10:40 PM