Stillwater News Press

October 11, 2013

Bus brigade stays busy hauling SPS students

By Mark Rountree
Stillwater NewsPress

STILLWATER, Okla. — More than 2,000 students hop on one of Stillwater’s 24 school buses every morning.

Getting that many children to each of the district’s school sites would seem like a significant logistical challenge.

But the man in charge of organizing the logistics of the bus brigade makes it work.

Matt Parsel, transportation director for the district, directs 18 regular routes, four routes for children with special needs and two flexible routes.

His buses traverse approximately 1,600 miles each day, toting students to and from school.

Different starting times at the schools this year required Parsel to organize three different routes. The elementary schools now begin at 8 a.m., the middle school at 8:30 a.m. and the junior high and high school at 9 a.m.

Parsel said parents and students seem to have adjusted to the new transportation schedule, although the first few days of school are always interesting.

“I can’t even begin to know what the problems will be in the first two days of school,” he said. “The parent traffic is a huge thing, especially with the elementary (schools) starting first. When the drivers drop off there, they might have a 15-minute wait trying to get out because of the extra traffic those first couple of days.”

Buses transport students to and from school on a tight schedule. A delay at the elementary school likely will cause a delay at the middle school, junior high and high school.

Each of the buses are equipped with three digital cameras to monitor passengers. The buses also include an electronic child check system, which requires the driver to walk to the back of the bus to turn it off. It is designed so the driver can ensure all children have departed the bus. The buses also are equipped with a global positioning system so that Parsel can monitor the location of each bus in real time.

Parents can access information about bus routes by visiting and clicking on the bus routes tab. The site is updated often and includes bulletins and notices. A recent post advised students to be at the bus stop at least five minutes before the designated time. This is especially true for elementary students, who board early in the morning when the sun is just coming up.

For more information, call the transportation department at 405-533-6347.