SHOW LOW — At 11 a.m. on Friday, May 18, a cavalcade of 11 brand new Blue Bird All American school buses, manufactured in Georgia, were driven through town by Show Low Unified School District (SLUSD) bus drivers via eastbound Deuce of Clubs/US60.

From Linden Elementary School, south on SR260 and onto the Deuce of Clubs/US60, the drivers turned north on Central Avenue and continued their route arriving at the SLUSD bus barn, just north of Show Low High School.

Drivers and staff were treated to a homemade lasagna luncheon made by long time school board member, Diane Lara, owner of America’s Pie Co. in Show Low.

The new buses are one of the first of several capital improvement purchases and projects becoming a reality following the approval of last November’s $10 million bond initiative.

In the first quarter of 2018, the SLUSD governing board approved a $1.4 million purchase order to begin the trade-in of the aging bus fleet. The district received credit for the old buses which was put toward the cost of the new buses, according to Greg Schubert, SLUSD business manager.

The purchase order included a total of 11 buses — nine standard schools buses plus two additional buses for special needs students. Each bus costs approximately $156,000 to $167,000.

“The full-size buses are considered conventional buses will can be used on all routes,” said Shawn West, district facilities and transportation director. “The transit buses will be utilized to travel to the Valley with team trips more often than the conventional buses as they have more storage space underneath them for gear, etc. Both style buses have the ability to travel off the mountain for trips,” explained West.

“Our bus fleet serves approximately 1,000 students daily plus other travel for field trips and extracurricular activities. There are 14 routes and two trips per day,” said West.

“The buses were also built specific to your region which means that the are all equipped with drop down snow chains,” explained Stacy Anderson, SLUSD board vice president.

“The board, the staff and the bond committee cannot thank this community enough for their generosity in passing the bond,” said Anderson. “The district has not purchased new buses for many years and this brings a new level of safety to our students and our drivers.”

Other safety features of the new buses include seat-belt ready seats with high backs, seven internal cameras and a stop-arm camera. Each bus is equipped with two stop-arms on the front of the bus that prevent children from being in the blind spot in front of the bus when exiting and crossing the road.

There are two extending stop signs on the exterior of each bus as well as a camera system that will capture pictures or video of vehicles that unlawfully pass the bus while stopped.

There are also cameras on the interior of the buses to aid the drivers with safety and security. In addition, any damage to the bus seats, floors, windows and interior will be captured on video.

All of the new buses have external LED lights that create a flashing light source with 8-way strobes on the exterior of the buses. “This makes them much easier to see for oncoming vehicles,” explained West. “The LED strobes are brighter from farther away and drivers can tell when the indicator lights change from yellow to red, indicating that the bus is stopping.” he added.

The conventional buses also have a lighted safety feature on the back of the bus which flashes the words “Caution – Stopping” when activated. Every bus is also equipped with an air horn.

“The next capital improvement projects will involve the district’s facilities management group,” said SLUSD Superintendent Shad Housley. “The architects are drafting plans for enhanced safety and security in school entryways.”

As the bond projects continue, school buildings and grounds will be renovated. Instructional technology will also be updated. The bond committee will continue to prioritize and oversee the various projects in cooperation with the school administration. The capital bond will address needs across the district, however none of the $10 million will be used for school operations or salaries.

Reach the reporter at lsingleton@wmicentral.com

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