With more students and more bus breakdowns, Livingston Parish officials seek to restructure school system’s transportation department _lowres

Advocate staff file photo by BILL FEIG -- Youngsters on the blue bus peer over and around the seats on the first day of school at Walker Elementary in Livingston Parish in 2014.

About three times a week, Livingston Parish students get stranded at school or on the road when their bus breaks down and a backup isn’t available, forcing them to wait for another driver to finish a normal route before circling back for them, the system’s transportation supervisor said Tuesday.

The Livingston Parish School Board is now entertaining a plan to restructure the transportation department in an effort to speed up repairs and keep pace with budding residential developments.

Tuesday evening, transportation supervisor Steve Vampran urged members of the transportation and athletic staff committees to shift some responsibilities and create a position of shop manager.

Along with the restyled mechanic manager, the shop manager would triage repairs, maintain an inventory of spare parts, and monitor the semi-annual inspections of the parish’s fleet of about 300 buses.

“That is a major job,” Superintendent John Watson said of the legally required inspections.

Inspections take at least an hour for a flawless bus, and most vehicles wind up in the shop more than the twice-yearly inspections require, Watson and Vampran said. The parish needs about 285 buses on the road to transport up to 20,000 students each day but has about 20 vehicles in reserve. Vampran believes the new structure, plus the hiring of a seventh mechanic, will help speed up repair turnaround times.

The proposed department plan also calls for modifications of the positions of office manager and routing analyst. Livingston Parish is among the fastest-growing in the state, and new neighborhoods, schools and campus expansions are all in the works. The slightly modified position of routing analyst would be charged with mapping routes and attendance zones, along with other duties.

The office manager, meanwhile, would help the school system anticipate future growth, advise on redistricting and represent the department on turnaround sites and road concerns, among other tasks, according to the job description.

The school system also may hire a secretary if a current secretary fills one of the new or modified positions.

Vampran told the committee he expects the plan to cost about $38,000 annually, to account for slight pay increases for the existing jobs and the creation of a new job, to be paid out of the general fund and second sales tax revenues.

Both committees forwarded his proposal to the School Board with only minor edits. The School Board will vote on the restructuring plan during their Thursday meeting. Should it pass, the school system would begin by advertising for the positions of mechanic manager, shop manager and office manager, then routing analyst, then secretary, if needed.

Follow Steve Hardy on Twitter, SteveRHardy.