Pupil transporter, alt-fuel advocate Mike McClung passes

Kelly Roher
Posted on March 14, 2013

Mike McClung served as director of transportation at Northside Independent School District from 1985 to 2000.
Mike McClung served as director of transportation at Northside Independent School District from 1985 to 2000.
SAN ANTONIO — Pupil transportation veteran Mike McClung, who was a strong advocate for running buses on alternative fuels, passed away on March 9 at the age of 65.

McClung spent more than 20 years in pupil transportation at Northside Independent School District (ISD). McClung joined the district in 1972, where he was a teacher at an elementary school and then a middle school before transitioning to the transportation department in 1977 as assistant director of transportation.

As assistant director, McClung worked with then-Director of Transportation Richard Rhodes to convert the district’s diesel-powered buses to propane. Officials said Northside ISD was one of the first school districts in the nation to champion propane fuel.

“His commitment to propane put Northside on the map as far as school transportation is concerned,” Superintendent Brian Woods said.

McClung succeeded Rhodes as director of transportation in 1985. Officials said he was considered an expert in alternative fuels and was frequently asked to speak at national conferences and to state officials about the viability and benefits of propane.

Samuel Davila, president of the Texas Association for Pupil Transportation (TAPT), attests to McClung’s expertise.

“I had the opportunity to work with Mike when my district [Conroe ISD] was researching clean fuel technology,” Davila told SBF. “I recall Mike always having a positive attitude, and he was very helpful with answering any questions I had. If he didn't know the answer, he would research and get the answer for me. Mike made a difference in transportation and was a positive role model for many transportation professionals.”

(McClung was active in TAPT as well. From 1988-89, he served as the association's president.)

McClung also took on other important industry issues. He was instrumental in the development of a school bus crossing arm bill that was passed by the Texas Legislature and signed by Gov. Mark White in 1986.

McClung retired from Northside ISD in 2000, but officials said he continued to speak to school boards and superintendents across the nation about the benefits of propane buses. In 2008, the district reportedly became the first in the nation to purchase a new fleet of buses fueled exclusively by propane.

The district honored McClung’s legacy last year by opening the Mike McClung Transportation Station, one of five transportation stations located throughout Northside ISD’s area of service.

McClung, who suffered from several neurological conditions, attended the ceremony with his wife, Barbara, and their children and grandchildren.

Board President Karen Freeman said at the dedication ceremony, “Mr. McClung, your legacy is still felt in Northside today as we continue your commitment to propane and student safety.”

“We are overwhelmed and so incredibly touched by this honor,” Barbara McClung said at the time. “Mike’s heart was in Northside, and he loved being in transportation.”

According to an obituary on Vaughan’s Funeral Home's website, McClung mentored teenagers after his retirement by teaching math at the Christian Academy of San Antonio. He also visited orphanages in Russia.

Related Topics: alternative fuels, propane, Texas

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