A fire marshal determines that an electrical malfunction started the fire in the engine of one bus and then spread to four others at Coldspring-Oakhurst CISD.
VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — After 31 years in pupil transportation, David Pace has stepped down as director of transportation services at Virginia Beach City Public Schools.
Pace retired from his district position on Feb. 1, although he plans to stay involved in the school bus industry after taking some time to “unwind and try and bring my stress levels back to normal.”
At Virginia Beach, Pace oversaw one of the larger district-owned school bus fleets in the nation, with more than 600 route buses transporting about 50,000 students daily. His efforts helped to boost the efficiency of the operation and to keep the fleet up to date.
On the efficiency front, Pace devised an innovative five-tier transportation system. He also pushed for funding to acquire new buses and technologies to enhance safety and security — including video cameras, two-way radios, GPS and child-reminder systems.
In 2011, under Pace’s leadership, the district opened a new, state-of-the-art transportation facility with numerous energy-saving and energy-generating features, including radiant floor heating, solar panels and even wind turbines.
Pace is known for sharing his expertise with peers and for mentoring new people in the industry. He said that he cherishes the relationships built during his career, describing his colleagues in the industry as “one huge family that always steps up to help and provide guidance when it is needed in any pupil transportation operation. We all share the same challenges … and it has always been comforting in my position to know that my local, state and national professional family was there for me whenever needed.”
In 2009, Pace was named School Bus Fleet’s Administrator of the Year.
With the Virginia Association for Pupil Transportation, Pace has held every office, including two terms as president. He will continue to serve in his current position as treasurer of the association. Also, he plans to attend the National Association for Pupil Transportation Summit in Richmond, Virginia, in November.
At Virginia Beach, John “Jay” Cotthaus has succeeded Pace as director of transportation services. Cotthaus has worked for the district for 21 years, 14 in pupil transportation.
Pace said that while there are certain things he won’t miss in his retirement — budgeting concerns, driver shortages, politics, etc. — he’ll retain his passion for safe pupil transportation.
“I will always worry about the safety of the children riding school buses,” he said. “Hopefully, I can use my professional experience in the future to promote and improve the safe ride to and from school for students from the sidelines.”
The state fire marshal is investigating the Wednesday night blaze at Coldspring-Oakhurst’s bus yard, but authorities say no foul play is suspected.
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