The only feet you need2/1/2017
“I’m a bus driver,” Randolph says with pride. “I’m a farm girl who grew up here, went to Runnells Elementary, and I rode the bus route that I drive.”
Being a bus driver is an important job. The safety of the community’s beloved little ones is entrusted within the driver’s care. Randolph has been driving a big yellow rig for Southeast Polk schools since 1983. Driving in the snowy weather can be a challenge, but naming her favorite part of the job is easy.
“It’s the kids,” she says.
Randolph remembers one kindergartner who arrived on her bus with his right shoe on his left foot and with his left shoe on the other.
“Tommy,” she remembers telling him. “You have your shoes on the wrong feet.”
The boy looked down with confusion, and then back up with a serious face and shook his head.
“I don’t have no more feet,” he said. “These are the only feet I got.”
That was the last time Randolph corrected Tommy’s shoe selection.
“After that I would just chuckle and say, ‘Go sit down, buddy.’ ”
Randolph’s boss, Daniel Schultz, the transportation director at Southeast Polk, says she is very active transporting various sporting groups to their activities. She drives for the football, wrestling and softball teams and helps less-experienced drivers learn the ropes.
“Tami is one of those people who is always level headed,” Schultz says.
Randolph drives more than 100 students per day to and from school. First she takes a group to high school, then she goes back around to fill the bus again, this time with the elementary kids. After she empties her rig, she does a third run on which she delivers high school students to a special learning center.
Some of the kids have been with her on her route since they began kindergarten, so she sees them mature into adults.
Southeast Polk’s Transportation director Daniel Schultz has been with the school district for 10 years. He says the district has about 70 buses running 61 routes, transporting nearly 4,000 students per day.
Bus facts, courtesy of Schultz:
- A bus is projected to last 18 years, and it costs about $100,000 to buy new. Calculate the cost per ride to school, per kid, and it comes out to about a nickel a day for the lifetime of the bus.
- Schultz is neutral about the pros and cons of seatbelts on buses, but he points out that, as a national average, only eight bus riders die on school busses per year. Meanwhile, an average of 800 students died driving to and from school on their own.
- It is estimated that the cost to install seatbelts on Southeast Polk’s buses would be about $1 million dollars. ♦