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School Buses

Historical school bus information from Lucille Goodrich's book:




The Illinois School Code required that students living more than l.5 miles from school in a Community Consolidated School District be provided with transportation. Others may be hauled but there was state reimbursement only for those beyond the 1.5 mile limit. All of the schools in the county now provide transportation. It has become a very large item in local school budgets.


Few accidents have happened in the school transportation system in Livingston County but on April 27, 1950, a real tragedy occurred. At Campus, Illinois, six grade children and the bus driver were killed instantly when a Wabash streamliner struck their improvised school bus, a 1947 Chevrolet five-passenger coupe, at an unguarded crossing near the grade school. The driver was the husband of Mrs. Helen Kane, the school principal. The school did not own a bus, so Mr. Kane operated a taxi service for the school's 12 rural pupils. The train was 20 minutes be-hind schedule and may have been racing to make up time. It was traveling about 70 miles per hour through the village of 150 persons.


In 1954, Richard Yeager of Streator, a teacher at the high school, and the Long Point-Reading Unit School District were named co-defendants in a damage suit filed in Circuit Court by Henry Franzen. The suit asked $10,000 on the basis of an accident in which a truck driven by Franzen and a school bus collided. Seven children and three men were injured, but none seriously.


School bus drivers are required to have a Red Cross First Aid Certi-ficate. The first First Aid classes for school bus drivers were set up in Pontiac in 1954. It was sponsored by the Red Cross and taught by E. M. McWherter, Assistant County Superintendent of Schools. Other Red Cross First Aid teachers in the county at that time were John Hayes, Pontiac; O. H. Wisthuff, Flanagan; Lorene Bratt and Margaret Moffett, both of Dwight. In later years, "Bob" Jones, Deputy Sheriff, has taught most of the First Aid Classes for bus drivers.


The law also requires a school bus driver to pass a physical examination and have a chauffeur's license.


Not much of a humorous nature happens in transportation but in 1965, a parent "commandeered" a Fairbury-Cropsey school bus in order to go after his daughter who had been kept after school. The school board after the story of Harold Turnipseed, a former substitute driver, moved to table the matter for further investigation. When his daughter did not return home on the bus, Mr. Trnipseed had taken the keys from Rev. Robert Fitts, a substitute driver, driven to Fairbury, picked up his daughter and, in addition picked up four other Cropsey children and taken them home.


Fairbury Artist Mrs. Ralph (Kathy) Romig must have had a sense of humor as well as a streak of practicality when, in 1972, she designed and painted animal bus symbols for ten Fairbury-Cropsey school busses. A horse, a unicorn, roadrunner, duck, deer, robin, skunk, butterfly, zebra and cow help children identify their own busses more easily.


All schools receiving reimbursement from the state for part of the cost of transportation are required to have busses and automobiles inspected twice a year, once prior to the opening of school in September and again before the opening of the second semester. Approved inspection stations are available in the county.


Conferences for school bus drivers are held on a regular basis by the County Office and the State Department of Transportation. Saunemin Schools were more or less forced into transporting students. Reddick High School, northeast of them in Ford and Kankakee Counties, was offering "free" transportation as an inducement to students living in the Non-High School District in that part of Livingston County. In order not to lose their share of the non-high school students and the accompanying non-high school tuition, the Saunemin High School district in-stituted bus transportation. Many other high schools in the county would do the same.


From Lucille Goodrich's book on Livingston County.





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