Ballston Spa Central School District Mechanic John Butler checks tire pressure on a bus during routine maintenance.

BALLSTON SPA — School mechanics at Ballston Spa Central School District are getting high grades for safety, with near perfect scores from the state Department of Transportation (DOT) the last four years.

School bus safety is a top priority for school districts, so most schools establish periodic maintenance schedules. The state DOT backs that up with compliance inspections, checking driver and mileage reports. This one-two combination means New York state school buses are some of the safest in the country.

At Ballston Spa Central School District, 87 buses and school vehicles make up a fleet of 120 district vehicles that rotate through monthly service checks. DOT representatives come to the school semi-annually as part of that department’s total of nearly 200 DOT inspections per year.

After schools had closed in March, buses at Ballston Spa were still in service for special education runs as well as community service support like food deliveries and a popular backpack program, reports Head Mechanic Brad Pingelski.

CSEA members who are employed as mechanics at the district are proud of the work they do.

“We know that on each run there could be up to 72 kids on each bus and we are responsible to them and the drivers,” said Tom Smith, a mechanic.

Ballston Spa Central School District Unit President Sue Spain, a bus driver, said she values the back-up mechanics provide.

“If ever there are any problems with our bus, they tell us to pull over and they come right to us, wherever we are, to help,” Spain said. “Our mechanics are on call 24/7. They don’t leave until all the buses are in and everyone is home.”

As this edition went to press, school districts statewide were busy with their plans to safely reopen schools. School employees are balancing educational goals with safety concerns for themselves and students.

As schools reopen, CSEA-represented school employees have the added benefit of dedicated CSEA Occupational Safety and Health staff to turn to.

Spain said she has been in frequent contact with CSEA Occupational Safety and Health Specialist Brian Pomeroy, whose area includes the Capital Region, with questions about safety protocols for her unit of 250 members working in seven different buildings.

“We are working continuously with CSEA Safety & Health to make sure all protocols are in place to protect students and members alike,” Spain said.

— Therese Assalian

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Therese Assalian

Therese has been working as the Capital Region Communications Specialist since 2002 handling all facets of internal and external communications for the region. Therese started her career at a Madison Avenue Public Relations firm and held several positions in public relations, marketing and event planning in corporate and non-profit roles in New York and Pittsburgh prior to moving to the Capital Region in 1999. Therese holds Bachelors and Masters degrees in Communication Studies and is also a published freelance writer on travel, food and the arts.

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