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Matching buses., kids not easy Alton Evening Telegraph Friday, September 8, A«5 Don Keil studies bus routes Editor's Note: Mrs. William Walter, who had a question about her son and the school bus, stopped in to see Don Keil, Alton school engineer who supervises busing. A student at SIUE, following her graduation from Lewis & Clark Community College, sho was captivated by the complexity of busing and how the school district goes about serving students and parents. Her story follows: By TOMMYE WALTER Transporting nearly S.lino school children from homo sidewalk to classroom is serious business. It. is the target of presidential candidates, current issue of segregation versus integration practices, and the serious concern of Donald A. Keil. He is school engineer of the Alton Community Unit School District No. 11. Student transportation is a tiny part of the responsibility of the school engineer. He is also responsible for the maintenance of all buildings and grounds, supervising new construction and custodial services. The Alton school system hf,s Jn daily operation 42 buses engaged in regular transportation of students to and from school. It also provices for extra-curricular service m the form of classroom field trips, sports engagements and other related services. The transportation licet consists of units varying from a seven-passenger station wagon to 72 passenger buses. Most of the units are 54 or 7 2 passenger vehicles, allowing the engineer to moot the needs of the terrain and the community. Shooting 'commands to the departing drivers while placating worried mothers over the telephone is common practice for Keil. "The first weeks of a new school year are the worst times," he admits, grabbing the ringing phone again To the new driver he instructs, "Now if yon remember to keep Johnny on one side of the bus and Karen on the other, you'll be allright. Make your turn before you let them off Uio bus. If you don't, you'll have them under it." To the harried mother on the phone, he advises, "Got him out there ten minutes earlier. He'll be picked up, 1 or "Tell her to stand out there. The bus is coming. It picks up later this year." "They'll want to change seats. Don't let them. Keep them seated." Again on the constantly ringing phone, "I'm sorry, lady. When they get off the bus, they are no longer ours. They are yours." At 9 a.m. a driver sits eating his sandwich. Asked why the early lunch, he says, "When you've been up since five, it isn't early." Keil catches the brunt of transportation complaints. He accepts each telephone call, shooting positive answers into the mouthpiece. He worries over trying to relocate 130 students who show up to catch a 72 passenger bus at om; of the terminals. "With computer scheduling." he says, "This problem will be eliminated." The school system is in the process of converting tli» transportation operations to IBM-VSP-360 scheduling. The first step in conversion is to set up and catalog all permanent bus stops in the district. The data processed approach with assigned s'.ci> numbers will simplify selection and assignment (-f transfers and accurate'y predict loading, according to Keil. Primarily, VSP determines the routes a fleet of buses should travel to and from school. It attempts to minimize problems in time, distance, and number of v e h i c 1 c s used. Where problems cannot he eliminated, VSP works out a satisfactory solution. "We are presently utilizing our IBM 1401 Computer to set up this program and feel that growth in our duta processing area of uses will expand to the full VSP-S60 programming requirements," Keil said adding "Nevertheless, we can nevDr overlook the human aspect of operational safety. Our drivers are well qualified and conscientious with an outstanding safe driving record. The last safety awards recognition to the drivers represented in excess of :i\<> million miles of safe operation." On the wall behind his desk hangs a large map of Alton C o m m u n i t y Unit School District No. 11. Brighton colored pins communicate to graders there are in a subdivision and what bus they take," he said. Beside the computerized map, Keil displays mirroring plans he and his office staff had worked out earlier. "I watch the construction of all new homes and developing subdivisions in our outlying school district," said Keil. "Even in summer. Multiply that by 3.9 and I 'know the approximate number of additional students to expect in the fall." "When we add a new bus service route, we ride along the route and copy names off the mailboxes. Tricycles and bicycles in the yards indicate where the children are located. We circle (he population clusters, designating them as bus stops. Seldom are we wrong. We avoid places where a stopped bus may be threatened by moving traffic. Dense foliage can hide a bus or a child stepping from it." "Our vehicles travel approximately .1,500 miles a month each," Keil "Multiply that by n'ne months. And you get an idea of how much wear and usa?;o the buses receive. Ev«ry summer we strip down e-ich bus and completely rework its brakes. It. is imperative that they be kept in number one condition." "The cost per mile durug the 1971-72 school year was 58.3 cents. During the 1969-70 school year it was 64.96 cents and in 1970-71 it was 64.46 cents. With rising costs nncl a larger number of students, we were able to reduce on:' per mile cost this past year." Adjoining Keil's office, a mechanic works beneath a 72 passenger bus. When t,ie children run down the fron f steps of their school today, it will be ready and waiting to take them home. Where the little red school house once symboli/.el education in rural America, it is now replaced by the ;>!« yellow school bus. Streams of yellow buses leave from Alton school yards each day. From them, thousands of tiny children arc sprinkled safely home throughout the community. Donald A. Keil is the man who keeps them flowing. WILD GOOSE DISCOUNT CENTER 3 MILES EAST OF BETH ALTO, ON ROUTE 140 NOBODY-BUT-NOBODY UNDERSELLS WILD GOOSE CLEARANCE SALE! To moke room for new stock we are clearing out SQO pair- Sixes 5 to 25. LADIES' PANTS • Solids • Stripes mff Apt? • Patterns Western STRAW HATS .. i OFF Assorted Ladies & Girls BLOUSES i OFF Mens & Boys Short Sleeve SHIRTS i OFF Broken Sizes BOYS PANTS .. i OFF the observer exactly whure the children needing transportation are located. In a glance Keil can tell where Uie grouble spots are developing and move to avert them. 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