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Monday, February 5, 2007

How the whole thing got started!

My name is Mary Kimball, the founder of the School Bus Training Team. I have been a school bus driver for 14 years and drive for Phoenix Central School. Well the story starts In June of 2006. I was fortunate to participate in NYAPT Central New York School Bus Road-eo. After competing successfully, I was able to attend the State NYAPT Road-eo held in Albany. Although I enjoyed the bus road-eo, the high light for me was this unique bus built by a mechanic from Owego Appalachian Central School. The bus was a modified full size school bus. By modifying, I mean the bus was cut in half and stationary positioned with the back end of the bus on its side, giving full affect of a school bus roll over. (A possible case in many bus accidents) There were safety rails and stairs installed as well. After talking to the safety team of Owego Appalachian, I was convinced my school district needed a bus like this. I shared the idea with my supervisor Ken Holland. I explained I aspired to build a training bus. Mr. Holland said he recognizes the value to have a training tool of that kind but unfortunately, our school district could not fit the training bus in the budget. Soon after, I went to Triple D a school bus repair shop, to see if they would fabricate a bus similar to this, as well as the cost. David the owner of Triple D was enthusiastic about the opportunity to take part of this momentous project and gave us an incalculable discount on the labor.

The story traveled fast after talking to many school bus drivers, monitors, transportation supervisors, and emergency personnel services from surrounding areas. We decided everyone would benefit from a training bus. In addition, we all could share the bus rather than have it used by only one or two school districts. The bus will be make available at no cost only the reimbursement of fuel is required.
We needed a bus, so I made a phone call to New York Bus Sales. George Darling, a sales representative there said New York Bus Sales has appreciation for school bus safety, and would be very delighted to take part in this mission. Not only did New York Bus Sales donate a school bus, I explained to George that we wanted to enhance our bus. Through extensive research, we have found other safety buses that were built. We would like to use some of their ideas to advance our bus. We have not found a safety/training bus that focuses on all students including those with special needs. We hope to accomplish this by adding other features such as car seats, safety restraints and a wheelchair lift. New York bus Sales was even so kind to install a wheelchair lift along with new step well and many new parts.
Our team has now formed a non-profit organization, consisting of representatives from many school districts and emergency personnel services in Central New York. The training bus will be used as a hands-on educational tool for bus drivers, students, emergency personnel, parents and the community. If you have any questions please feel free to contact me. (315- 440-8461) Or check us out on the web.
Mary Kimball


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