Transportation report gets mixed reviews

Friday, March 6, 2009
Photo by Karen Hall Glenn Ezell, transportation supervisor, left, spoke to the Marshall County School Board's Transportation Committee this week while Craig Michael, studies some figures.

A progress report on the Edulog software was given to the school board's transportation committee this week and got a mixed reception.

Transportation supervisor Glenn Ezell reported that he and his staff have been working with Edulog.

"We finally got our manual," he said. "It's going pretty well, but it's going to be a time-consuming thing for a while."

"Do we need an extra employee to keep up with Edulog?" asked committee chairman Curt Denton.

"It's very possible," replied Ezell. "There'll be a lot to do and the start of the school year."

"If it's linked with STAR how much work is required?" asked Kristen Gold.

"All they do at school is enter it (the information in STAR) and hope it gets to us," answered Ezell. "Somebody will have to be on it every day do that you catch the stuff that's floating around."

"I'm starting to get very concerned about Edulog," said committee member Craig Michael. "I don't like what I hear. It sounds cumbersome, and a lot of man-hours have been spent on it already. We shouldn't have to check everything they put in at the schools. Software that should make things easy is making things harder - that's not what you purchase technology for."

The committee resolved to get Suzanne Ingram, the technology supervisor, to come and give them a presentation on Edulog at their next meeting, and said they would also try to get reports from other districts already using the software.

"What is the payback we're supposed to be getting from Edulog?" asked Michael.

"We're hoping it will help us consolidate some routes," replied Stan Curtis, director of schools. "We hope to save by not having to buy so many buses."

"Yes," said Ezell. "You can ask it for the best possible routes and the shortest."

"What's the probability that this will happen?" asked Michael.

"Highly probable," Curtis said.

"It scared me when I heard Maury County had Edulog for four years before they used it, and then they had to hire a person to run it," said Denton.

"They do have 12,500 students," Curtis pointed out.

"I'd like to see it up and going before the end of the year," said Denton.

The committee moved on to consider the purchase of new buses.

Bids on two regular 90-passenger buses and one handicapped bus are due back on March 20. There was some discussion of the fact that handicap buses have to have smaller tires in order to have a flat floor so that seats can be taken out to make space for a wheelchair.

The Tennessee School Boards Association is backing a bill, due to come up in the next legislative session, to allow school buses to serve for 20 years, instead of the current 15, if they pass inspection.

"That could save the county an appreciable amount of money," said Michael.

"You'd have to look at each bus individually and see what it's gone through," said Ezell. "Some routes are harder on them than others," he explained. "Eighteen and 23 go up a lot of hills - both of those are almost ready for another transmission."

The group looked at the January numbers for miles driven and fuel used on regular runs and special trips, and compared some figures with last year's expenditures. So far they are doing good with parts, tires, and fuel.

"I know Glenn has been working hard on cutting back and saving," said Denton. "They used to buy new alternators for $500 each; now they are having alternators rebuilt for $150 and they seem to hold up just as well."

Ezell reported that energy-saving lights are being installed at the bus garage, and Curtis told the committee that a tool cage is being built to safeguard the diagnostic equipment they plan to buy.

Having their own diagnostic equipment is expected to generate considerable savings. Ezell said they have even had to pay to have buses towed to Cummins because they could figure out what was wrong with them.