Tahlequah Daily Press


August 29, 2013

A day on the school bus

TPS drivers transport more than 1,000 students each school day.

TAHLEQUAH — srowley@tahlequahdailypress.com

Before they can begin a day of classes, many Tahlequah Public Schools students must take a publicly funded journey.

They get to their respective schools aboard buses, steered by drivers who bear much responsibility in their part-time jobs.

“TPS has a dedicated group of drivers,” said Cody Thompson, director of maintenance, transportation and grounds. “They take their jobs very seriously and realize their importance. They are responsible for the transport and safety of over 1,000 kids every day.”

On an average day, TPS transports 1,010 students during the mornings and 1,025 in the afternoons. The district employs 26 drivers, and each must carry a commercial driver’s license with a specific “S” endorsement for school bus driving. They must also pass a medical exam, drug test and felony background check.

Jack Lankford assumed the district’s role of assistant transportation director after eight years as a bus driver. During a typical day as a driver, he awoke at 4 a.m., got home from driving his route around 9 a.m., returned at 2 p.m. and finished his afternoon shift at around 5:30 p.m.

“I know a lot of people think it is an easy job, but there are actually a lot of difficulties,” he said. “The kids can act up, and you need to keep taking glances at the mirror while you drive.”

Drivers must also deal with parents. Lankford said a common parental complaint is that a child was struck by another while on the bus.

“The seats are high-backed,” Lankford said. “That is to improve the safety for the children in a collision. They don’t fly over the seats and around the inside of the bus. However, it can make monitoring the kids difficult. The little ones you may not see unless they peek around the side. The older ones, you can only see from their noses up. So there is a potential for the kids to make mischief.”

Lankford said another difficulty for drivers is the fluidity of the routes.

“The routes can change on any day,” he said. “People move in and move away. Some kids only ride the buses on certain days of the week. The drivers have to know all this and make sure all the kids are getting on the buses and getting off at the right stops. There is no daily memo to remind them. ”

Thompson said that for many drivers, the top complaint is also the top reason they enjoy the job.

“Kids are kids, and they have to sit on the bus for quite a while,” he said. “Our drivers have complaints, but they are also very understanding. They enjoy kids and enjoy seeing them safely to school and back. They wouldn’t do this if they didn’t”

Learn more

Those with questions about TPS bus service can call (918) 458-4168.

Online exclusive

To learn the rules for riding a TPS school bus, go to www.tahlequahTDP.com/onlineexclusives.

Text Only
  • rf-Faith-7-29.jpg New opportunity opens door for local pastor

    A unique opportunity for ministry training will begin next year in Tahlequah.
    The River Ministries will be launching The River Training Center, a complete ministry school. The training center will also perform community outreach and sponsor mission trips, all beginning in January 2015.
    The founder of the school, Pastor Brandon Stratton, was raised in Tahlequah and previously pastored Calvary Assembly of God Church.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • 22ndAmendment.jpg Presidential terms limited by 22nd Amendment

    The past 30 years have been marked by occasional grumbling from one American political party, and celebration from the other - depending on who occupies the White House - about the disqualification of a president after eight years of service.
    For much of the nation’s history, a presidency could last indefinitely.

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • sg-Paperbacks.jpg Paperbacks still survive in the digital age

    In an era when mobile technology is always at hand, most people can access an electronic book at any time. Such literary luxuries weren’t widely available to previous generations until the dawn of the paperback book.
    Wednesday, July 30, is set as a day to celebrate the low-cost, portable book during National Paperback Book Day.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • rf-skydiver-tomahawk.jpg Former resident tapped for national skydiving award

    A man known locally for putting Tahlequah on the international map by bringing world-class skydiving events to town is being inducted in the National Skydiving Museum Hall of Fame in October.
    Norman Heaton said he’s very honored to be selected for the prestigious award given to people who have made significant contributions to the sport of skydiving.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • 20th-Amendment.jpg Inauguration day changed by 20th Amendment

    Sometimes an amendment is added to the U.S. Constitution that is uncontroversial and virtually unlitigated.
    Such is the 20th Amendment, which moved the seating of the new Congress and the presidential inauguration day to January, and enumerates procedure if a president-elect dies or cannot take office.
    Because the “Lame-Duck Amendment” addresses procedure, it is long.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • rf-School-Fashion.jpg Fashion show to feature local teachers

    A fun fashion event that will provide funds for one lucky area school is coming up next weekend.
    Local teachers and students have until Tuesday, July 22, to sign up for the Teacher and Student Back 2 School Fashion Show at Arrowhead Mall in Muskogee.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • rf-actress.jpg TV’s ‘Mistresses’ has second local tie

    Tahlequah has at least two ties to the TV drama “Mistresses.”
    Local florist Josh Cottrell-Mannon designed the flower arrangements for the show’s season finale, and Arriane Alexander, daughter of local resident Sharilyn Young, is portraying a television news reporter.

    July 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • rf-Stark-Sequoyah.jpg Stark enjoys making a difference

    Kristin Stark, Sequoyah Elementary Teacher of Year, loves teaching, and has a desire to make a positive difference in the lives of children.
    “I love making a difference in the lives of children; it is a wonderful feeling to make a positive impact on a child,” said Stark.

    July 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • sr-19thAmendment.jpg Women got the vote with 19th Amendment

    During its first 140 years, the United States Constitution underwent a series of changes intended to extend voting rights to those who were not white or didn’t own property - but as the American experiment entered the 20th Century, half the adult population still had no protection to vote.
    Though they certainly had political opinions, women could not cast a ballot in most states. That changed with passage of the 19th Amendment.

    July 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • renee-storyteller.jpg Cherokee, Tlingit storytellers to share their craft during special NSU event

    Two Native American cultures will be represented during a storytelling workshop featuring Cherokee Gayle Ross and Tlingit and Cherokee dancer and storyteller Gene Tagaban, of Seattle.

    July 10, 2014 1 Photo


Do you believe school administrators and college presidents in Oklahoma are paid too much?

Strongly agree.
Somewhat agree.
Somewhat disagree.
Strongly disagree.
     View Results
Tahlequah Daily Press Twitter
Follow us on twitter
AP Video
Raw: Japanese Soldiers Storm Beach in Exercises Raw: Weapons Fire Hits UN School in Gaza Raw: Rocket Launches Into Space With Cargo Ship Broken Water Main Floods UCLA Two Women Narrowly Avoid Being Hit by Train In Virginia, the Rise of a New Space Coast New Sanctions on Key Sectors of Russian Economy Crayola Announces Family Attraction in Orlando US Ready to Slap New Sanctions on Russia Kerry: Not Worried About Israeli Criticism Boater Rescued From Edge of Kentucky Dam Girl Struck by Plane on Florida Beach Dies Rodents Rampant in Gardens Around Louvre House to Vote on Slimmed-down Bill for Border Looming Demand Could Undercut Flight Safety Raw: 2 Shells Hit Fuel Tank at Gaza Power Plant Raw: Massive Explosions From Airstrikes in Gaza Giant Ketchup Bottle Water Tower Up for Sale Easier Nuclear Construction Promises Fall Short Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue