GREENCASTLE -- The transportation department at South Putnam School Corporation has started the new school year without much difficulty thanks to a new program.
"(Versatrans Solutions) is a super program," said Chuck Shaffer, transportation director. "It's the smoothest year we've had."
Shaffer predicts the Versatrans program will save the corporation between $20,000 and $25,000 this school year. Those figures are after considering the $14,000 invested in the program.
"We may realize more savings at the end of the school year," Shaffer said.
The Versatrans program provides bus routes in the most economical way by combining or shortening routes to save miles. It offers reports, such as when a driver's CPR certification or CDL physical are due; enhanced emergency response, in case of an accident or due to a student's medical condition; and helps manage fuel cost, mileage and number of students on a particular route.
In case of an emergency, a driver can inform the department which student was last dropped off or picked up and by using the program, Shaffer will immediately know how many students are remaining on the bus and who they are.
"The program has helped eliminate one-half route at Reelsville," said Shaffer. "We also didn't have to replace a full-time driver who recently retired."
But the program would be useless without help inputting route information and maps. Kim Franklin, who is also a bus driver with the corporation, has assisted Shaffer in getting the program up and running since February.
"Kim has done a tremendous job," said Shaffer.
From a bus driver's standpoint, Franklin noted the program's accuracy of a route (especially for a substitute driver) and its efficiency.
"It's very handy," she said.
The transportation department currently has 29 total buses with 24 full-time routes and two half routes covering 163 square miles. In addition, the department passed its Indiana State Police bus inspection with a 100 percent for the third straight year.
"That is very difficult to do," said Shaffer.
Overall, Shaffer rates Versatrans as a "good, solid program for South Putnam."
Anyone interested in learning more about the program, the savings it will create and how it's used are welcome to attend South Putnam School Board's regular meeting Sept. 21, when Shaffer will be giving a PowerPoint presentation.