Director of Transportation Rick Smith (left) says head technician Raymond Keifer (second from left) and technician assistant Gene Jones work well with the district’s drivers. The men are pictured with transportation clerks Margie Rowley and Elaine Harrison.
Technician, driver collaboration eases bus maintenance
Valley Center Public Schools
Valley Center, Kan.
For the past 28 years, Valley Center Public Schools’ bus fleet has received a 100-percent passing grade on state inspections. This success is owed in part to its maintenance facility’s head technician, Raymond Keifer, and technician assistant Gene Jones, who have a combined 35 years of experience working with school buses and diesel engines. The pair also has an excellent relationship with the district’s bus drivers.
“Raymond and Gene work very well with our drivers. They keep drivers informed of changes and expected downtimes for their buses due to maintenance or mechanical failures,” says Rick Smith, the district’s director of transportation.
Keifer and Jones also impart bus maintenance knowledge to drivers so that, in the case of a recurring mechanical failure, a driver will be able to identify and handle the problem.
Drivers can also speed up the bus repair process by filling out bus maintenance request forms, which ease communication between drivers and the technicians. The forms, says Smith, were developed to improve the reporting process so “service work can begin when the issue is first noticed.”
To keep the buses running smoothly, the team performs preventive maintenance every 3,500 miles. An oil change is performed every 7,000 miles and, two months before the end of each school year, each bus undergoes “bumper to bumper” maintenance and repair.
At the beginning of the 2010-11 school year, the maintenance team moved into a brand new transportation facility. The new facility is equipped with administrative offices, a fully functional kitchen and two wash bays.
“In addition,” Smith says, “the fronts of our buses are protected by an awning in our bus parking area from inclement weather, which assists drivers when preparing the buses for the school day.”
— BRITTANY-MARIE SWANSON
Fleet: 33 school buses, 13 other vehicles
Total shop staff: 2
Number of bus bays: 6 work bays and 2 wash bays
Annual mileage: 461,561
Students transported: 1,500
Schools served: 17