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Transportation coordinator Shelton keeps the district moving

Q&A with Kerry Shelton, transportation coordinator

One of the biggest responsibilities for Varnett's Kerry Shelton is to ensure the safe and timely transportation of approximately 900 students each school day. The transportation coordinator, a Varnett employee for nearly eight years, is responsible for the routing, dispatching and scheduling of the district’s 11 bus drivers. He also oversees the route selection and is responsible for receiving calls and responding to questions and complaints.

During a recent interview, Mr. Shelton discussed his responsibilities.

Q: What area do you serve and how many stops do your drivers make each day?
A: We have 23 stops (one way) and cover just about all of Houston. We start about 5:45 a.m., the drivers are here at about 5:30, and we return at about 7:20 a.m. There are about 60-63 students in each bus. They are assigned at bus stops, grocery stores, street corners, the YMCA. In the afternoon we try to leave at 3:15 without complications and try to have each bus cleared by about 4:30.

Q: What are the biggest challenges you face as transportation coordinator?
A: Making sure that all buses are safe, making sure the drivers are safe in their driving and trying to keep up with every child: names, phone numbers and parents. That’s the hardest thing to do because of the movement of the parents on a consistent basis. We’re just trying to keep their child in the school. We try to keep them on the transportation route that we have without them moving too far out.

Q: What options do you have if they move?
A: We have no control over where they move but we do have control over trying to help them keep their child in school. We don’t want to lose any child, especially to transportation. However, if they move to an area that’s not even remotely close, there’s nothing I can do. We’re just trying to keep them at the school with the bus route we already have.

Q: What should parents know about how you conduct business?
A: What they should know is that we do our very best to make sure it’s a safe, clean, proper bus company.

Q: How would you describe your drivers?
A: This is something they have been doing practically all of their lives. We have at least 70 years of driving experience in the fleet. Most have been driving 25-30 years without a blemish on their record. They are virtually clean and we are talking 70 years of experience throughout the whole district. Texas School Bus (a corporation that started in 2003) requires that their records are clean and their backgrounds are clean, period. There’s no room for even a speeding ticket.

Q: What do you do if someone calls in sick, quits or retires or goes on disability?
A: I end up looking for another driver but in the meantime I’m the driver. I created all these routes so I’m expected to fit right in when someone falls out.

Bus signup for 2010-11:

It's not too early to think about signing up your children for bus service for the 2010-2011 school year. Here is the schedule:

Monday, August 2, Southwest campus
Tuesday, August 3, Northeast campus
Wednesday, August 4, East campus

Signup hours at each campus will be from 7:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and from 1:30 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Students will be accommodated on a first-come, first-serve basis with a capacity of 70 students for each bus. If you have questions please call 281-889-9386.
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