New program equals big savings for SP

Thursday, August 20, 2009

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.

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  • This system is not running smoothly as it says. My childs name was not on the list when I signed them up and had to contact bus barn to see who her driver was. Also their is children riding longer then hour on the bus. We need to stop letting children get on the bus at 7am when school does not start until 8:30am and their are children getting off bus around 4:15pm to 4:30pm when school gets out at 2:50pm. This is too long of a bus ride. Also Central students have to sit down at the high school for atleast 18 mintues until High school gets out. That is not right at all when Reelsville and Fillmore do not have to do that. This is saving them money at our CHILDRENS EXPENSE. I pay our taxes so I want to use the bus but I don't want my child riding longer than hour ride when I live 10 minutes away!!!!!

    I encourage ALL parents that have complaints about what time their children get on the bus or off the bus, also that our children have to wait at the high school to contact Chuck to complain and also attend on Sept 21. We are our childrens voice so let us speak up for them.

    -- Posted by coltsfan25 on Thu, Aug 20, 2009, at 6:25 AM
  • Hey "baskets," you have some legitimate concerns in your comments on Thursday. But you may want to use "grammar check" to clean up your note (school thing I guess). Give credit to South Put for incorporating Versatrans and attempting to save money. That, in itself, is a tough job.

    I am sure patron attendance at a South Putnam School Board meeting is encouraged. But just a hint; attend to share your concerns, not to air your complaints. Just a difference in semantics? Yes, but you will probably be more satisfied with the reception of your concerns.

    To the South Putnam School Board: When considering investments in programs such as Versatrans, could even more money be saved by purchasing or leasing the program in conjunction with a neighboring school corporation, such as Cloverdale? Just a thought.

    Keep up the good work!

    -- Posted by cvilleguy on Thu, Aug 20, 2009, at 7:07 AM
  • It would be nice to see that all of the drivers are treated the same and share the extra trips with all and not Chuck's favorite people. Everyone would like a few extra dollars in the pockets these days. As far as the new route system that could have been in place 20 years ago but chose not to use what they purchased at that time. We the parents have a right to know what and how things affect our children. We have drivers that should not be driving.

    -- Posted by south putnam taxpaper on Thu, Aug 20, 2009, at 7:43 AM
  • Good luch voicing your opinion at the school board meetings if you are not in the Good Ole buddy club THE SCHOOL BOARD MEMBERS DON'T CARE!!!and Shaffer is in the club, I remember about 8 years ago my kids were on a bus where every seat would have 3 kids in it, and a bus from Fillmore, would unload her fillmore kids and then drive oh about 12 kids to SPHS, driving right down US40 passing kids standing and waiting on thier bus that would be loaded, I asked why this bus could'nt stop and get some of these kids, Shaffer could not give me a answer, I was told by other bus drivers that the fillmore bus driver was a FAVORTIE and she didn't want anymore kids!!! Again good luck with Shaffer and the school board!!

    -- Posted by senior'08 on Thu, Aug 20, 2009, at 8:59 AM
  • I agree with "baskets". The new system is not running that smoothly. Why should our children be on the bus for an hour? In some cases children are on the bus for a total of 2 hours, if not longer a day. School is only 6.5 hours. You do the math and see how long a child is the bus for a week. If a child is picked up first in the morning, he/she does not need to be one of the last ones to get off in the evening. I called to get the time of pick up and drop off and the Versatran System is different then what the bus driver is doing. The bus is earlier in the morning and later in the enevings. Why is that?

    I will be at the next board meeting to voice a concer for my child. I hope that other parents will do the same.

    -- Posted by Mom of Kids on Thu, Aug 20, 2009, at 10:45 AM
  • So do you people want lower taxes or shorter, less efficient bus routes? Because you can't have both.

    -- Posted by LangdonUlger on Thu, Aug 20, 2009, at 12:26 PM
  • Shorter, less efficient bus routes!!! IS my choice!!! Our tax money is not being put to good use anyways! So let the kids win with shorter routes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    -- Posted by coltsfan25 on Thu, Aug 20, 2009, at 1:05 PM
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