School bus system ready for new year

Storm damage not to impact ability to get students to school

T-R PHOTO BY ADAM SODDERS - The Marshalltown Schools bus barn didnÕt see significant damage in the July 19 tornado, despite much of the rest of the area getting hit hard. Director Rex Kozak said bus routes are being determined for the upcoming school year.

On the morning of Aug. 23, about 2,000 Marshalltown Schools students will rely on the familiar large, yellow school buses to get them to class for the first day of the school year.

District director of transportation Rex Kozak said his staff will be ready, even with challenges brought on by the July 19 tornado.

“Families are doing a great job of letting us know where they’ve relocated to and we’re working with them to make sure we can get the students picked up,” he said. Kozak said parents should call the school their child attends to let them know if they have relocated because of the storm.

Some bus route variation is expected each year before school starts, Kozak said, but because so many people have relocated this year, the bus routes will have to adapt.

“We know some houses are not there, we know some kids have been displaced,” he said.

T-R PHOTO BY ADAM SODDERS - While the bus barn didnÕt see a lot of damage, other buildings in the same area, such as the Lennox plant and Rumours Sports Bar and Grill, shown here, took a lot more damage.

“Our drivers are out now, they are going around checking, and they are going to get their routes probably finalized (Thursday).”

Kozak said his goal is to notify parents of the finalized routes by Aug. 20.

The district bus barn, 1102 E. Nevada St., is surrounded by other buildings that saw damage in the storm, including Rumours Sports Bar and Grill, right across the street, as well as the Lennox plant down the road. However, Kozak said the buses and facility were hardly hit.

“We are blessed, let me put it that way,” he said. “We just had a couple of back windows broken on a bus from the storm and we got those replaced … we had a couple hatches that had blown off, we got those replaced.”

None of the buses were moved around in the high winds, Kozak said.

He said parents should contact individual school buildings’ administrators if they want their child to go somewhere other than their normal stop, such as to a relative’s or friend’s house. If a child is unable to ride the bus because they are sick, or if a student doesn’t arrive home as expected in the afternoon, Kozak said to call the transit staff at the bus barn.

In addition to the school’s fleet of 41 buses, Kozak said some students may take advantage of the City of Marshalltown’s Municipal Transit bus system.

“It’s been a while since I did a nose count, but we have over 100 students that we transport every day,” said Municipal Transit Administrator Richard Stone. “We do not take attendance, it’s you get on the bus, you pay for the ride, have a seat, life will be good.”

He said the Municipal Transit seasonal routes come online during the school year and students from Lenihan Intermediate School, Miller Middle School and Marshalltown High School are the focus of those routes. The cost for a single bus ride is $1, but monthly passes can also be purchased.

Stone said if a student misses a city bus, they or their parents should call the transit office immediately to see if the bus can return to the stop. However, he said if a call comes in too late, the bus won’t be able to return.

Marshalltown Municipal Transit also has fixed routes serving the east and west sides of town year-round, but Stone said those routes are not geared toward getting students to school.

For more information on school transit, visit https:// www.marshalltown.k12.ia.us/our-district/transportation. For Marshalltown Municipal Transit information, route maps and schedules, visit https://www.marshalltown-ia.gov/368/Marshalltown-Municipal-Transit

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Contact Adam Sodders at (641) 753-6611 or asodders@timesrepublican.com