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The bus stops here
USD 428 fourth graders attend Ag Day
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Park School fourth graders are delivered to Ag Day at the Ron and Debbie Koelsch farm on Wednesday, Sept. 7. - photo by COURTESY PHOTO

For a district that doesn’t bus students to and from school, USD 428 buses sure see a lot of action.
On Wednesday yellow activity buses made several trips to the Ron and Debbie Koelsch farm west of Great Bend delivering fourth graders to and from Ag Day.
About 250 children – plus their teachers – from public and private schools participated in nine different learning stations depicting many facets of farm and ranch life from animals to bee keeping and horse shoeing to crop cultivation.
“The bus drivers shuttle the kids back and forth,” said Cathie McManaman, USD 428 transportation secretary, noting Ag Day is only one of the challenges she must schedule.
McManaman said the month of September is especially busy because in addition to middle-school and high-school sporting events throughout the week and on Saturdays, she also must schedule Wetlands Day to the Kansas Wetlands Education Center, Band Day to the Kansas State Fair in Hutchinson, Band Day to Kansas State University and new this year a huge One District One Book event.
“September is a crazy, crazy month with so many things packed in,” she said. “Somehow, Sharon (Jenkins, transportation and grounds director) makes it happen. Some Saturdays there are five or six different events.”
All of the traveling not only puts pressure on the buses, but also the bus drivers who see lots of overtime hours during busy seasons. Jenkins said that she could use another part-time driver.
A 2017 42-passenger Blue Bird transit coach approved by the school board was recently delivered to the district to help round out the fleet. It replaces two old yellow school buses that were decommissioned because of age in accordance with state laws. The price tag on the new bus was $175,000 and the last activity buses – two large Panther buses – were purchased 10 years ago.
The new red and white activity bus will be “skinned” with Panther colors and logos by Mark’s Custom signs and may make its maiden voyage to Liberal with seventh- and eighth-grade volleyball teams on Sept. 19.
“(Traveling to) events like this are something the kids enjoy and they will remember for a long time,” said Dennis Neeland, Ag Day volunteer.