PCS buses get ready to roll

A freshly painted Pelham City Schools bus sits in the parking lot of Valley Elementary School, ready to go for the first day of school. (Reporter Photo / Molly Davidson)

A freshly painted Pelham City Schools bus sits in the parking lot of Valley Elementary School, ready to go for the first day of school. (Reporter Photo / Molly Davidson)

By MOLLY DAVIDSON / Staff Writer

PELHAM—Anyone driving by Valley Elementary School on Pelham Parkway will notice the freshly painted fleet of Pelham City Schools buses ready to go for the first day of school.

Floyd Collins, Pelham City Schools’ newly hired transportation and career tech coordinator, said getting the school system’s 39 buses ready for the first day has gone smoothly. But readying the buses is only part of his job in preparing transportation for the first day of school. Collins is also working to fill those buses with drivers and plan their routes and schedules.

“Filling (bus driver) vacancies in a short amount of time” has been the biggest challenge thus far, Collins said, noting the many layers of certification and verification bus drivers must go through. Bus drivers must pass a pre-employment background test, a CDL test, state inspection and on-road driving test, Collins explained.

In addition to hiring drivers, Collins has been reviewing, “streamlining” and finalizing Pelham’s bus routes for the coming year.

“We inherited what the previous routes were like (under the Shelby County School System),” Collins said.

Last year, Pelham students were serviced by 35 bus routes and one temporary route shared by Helena students. This year, Collins has devised 36 routes to service Pelham’s four schools.

“I go through and see if any revisions can be made at the recommendation of the drivers to make it as efficient as possible,” Collins said.

Collins has been working to improve service and “remove overlap,” especially in the Ballantrae and Weatherly neighborhoods, although he said parents shouldn’t expect to see any major differences from last year, except for “minor tweaks in times.”

Additionally, Collins said he is already planning for the future as Pelham residents attending Alabaster and Chelsea schools transition into Pelham City Schools.

“As those students transition… and start to come to us, we’ll need to pick them up,” Collins said, noting new routes will be planned for these students.

As soon as bus routes and schedules are finalized, Collins said they will be posted to the “transportation” section of the “departments” page on Pelhamcityschools.com.