By Julie Ann Madden
Four brand-new school buses arrived at the Akron-Westfield Community School bus barn on July 8.
Having four new buses in the school’s fleet was made possible by the school board’s decision to lease buses instead of purchase them.
According to Akron-Westfield/West Sioux Shared Transportation Director Larry Clarey, the buses are 2013 International buses with a capacity of 65 passengers.
These buses include standard safety equipment such as two roof escape hatches, four emergency escape windows and safety crossing arms across the buses’ fronts.
The buses also have seamless flooring and wider entrances.
“They are state-of-the art buses,” said Clarey.
Most importantly, these buses have the “No Child Left Behind” system, which is designed so that no child is accidently left on the vehicles.
After drivers shut off the bus’ engine, he or she must go to the back of the bus and disarm an alarm, explained Clarey. This forces drivers to look for children as they walk to and from the alarm.
These buses also have higher seat backs — 3 inches higher than older buses, he said. This offers children more head protection in the event of a crash.
These four buses were built in Tulsa, Okla, approximately one month ago, said Clarey. They were driven to Marshalltown, then delivered to us.
“They have from 700 to 800 miles on them,” he said. “They are literally brand new.”
For school districts Akron’s size which purchase school buses, it is unusual to have four brand new buses in their fleets.
“We’ve never had four brand new buses in the fleet since I’ve been here,” said Clarey, who has worked at A-W for 21 years. However, he does remember seeing paperwork showing the district purchased three new buses in 1986, which was six years before he started.
Last year, the district had just one new bus, he said, explaining four older buses and that new bus were traded-in to help finance the bus-leasing program.
So students will not ride on Buses No. 95, 97, 99, 2000 and 2012 this year. The bus’ numbers correspond to the years when the buses were built.
Students will be looking for Buses No. 13-1, 13-2, 13-3 and 13-4 now.
A-W has a total of 10 buses in its current fleet.