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Mustang Movers Are Always On The Move
Displaying the plaque that was awarded to the school board are members of the Mustang Movers. Everyone has a part in the organization, from bus drivers, to instructors, to dispatchers, to mechanics. Each and every person plays a huge part in making the group flourish and keeps the Oakdale Joint Unified School District transportation system moving as smoothly as possible. Sarah Lawson/The Leader

The ‘Mustang Movers’ for the Oakdale Joint Unified School District created and presented a special plaque at the school board meeting on Monday, Jan. 10 highlighting a full school year of no accidents among the school bus miles driven.

Patty Maaske, bus driver and special needs driver, provided information about the plaque while Delores Ybarra awarded the plaque to the board. Ybarra was voted by the other bus drivers as Driver of the Year for 2021 and voted to award the plaque. Originally hoping to present the plaque in early August, the delivery date kept being pushed back due to pandemic reasons.

The plaque commemorated the ‘undefeated season’ of zero accidents each day of the school year. Usually the school year has a total of 185 days but with COVID it was only 13 so the ‘season’ total was listed on the plaque as 135-0. The drivers go out for regular school trips several times daily, as well as for field trips, sports events, and any other special activities.

“If our drivers pull into this bus yard each and every day after their routes and we haven’t had any incidents, that is a win for us,” Driver and Safety Instructor Kat Songer explained. “At the end of the school year, we felt it was important to look at that and make it something recognizable.”

The Mustang Movers are an organization made up of 18 bus drivers that take on one or multiple routes to provide a service that makes sure each student arrives to school on time and as safely as possible.

“The Mustang Movers were formed because we wanted to give back to the community,” Maaske declared. “Prior to the pandemic we had some big plans in the works to surprise some of our hard working students; we have been waiting patiently to start this plan again.”

The plaque was to symbolize to the board that the Movers are thankful they have their board’s constant support and belief and the acknowledgment for the work the drivers put in every day.

“We wanted the board to remember that this is what we can do and what has been done and be prepared for it to happen over and over again.” Songer expressed.

This is the first year that the Movers decided to do something like this, but along with the plaque, each driver got a personalized medal representing that they went out and completed an undefeated season.

The Movers follow what they call, the ‘SEE’ program: Safety, Effectiveness, and Efficiency.

The bus yard is open for visitors and they highly recommend any child or adult that has an interest in what they do and how they do it, to come to their facility located at 1384 E. F St., Oakdale, behind HCI Docks.

There are a variety of training and safety courses staged at the bus yard as well and each driver completes several hours of training each year.

The Movers also started a special needs program that allows them to have drivers transport kids that need a little more extra help in buses that are newly designed for them specifically. Extra things were added onto the buses like seat with their name tags on them, supplies like stuffed animals, wheelchair access, and a light sensor that notifies the driver if a collision or an abrupt stop is coming up so they have enough time to prepare for anything coming their way. The sensor also gives an added layer of protection if something happens to the driver it will automatically begin to slow down the bus.

“There is a lot that goes into the advancing school bus technology and buses in general, phone calls, emails, zoom meeting, and lots of demos from the bus companies,” explained Bus Mechanic Kyle Lawrence. “In the past, the drivers and support staff and the department never had the chance to even touch the bus or drive the bus before it showed up, now we are making changes so in the future it will be even easier to find the right bus for the right price and feel.”

The Mustang Movers are a tight organization whose members support each other and try their best to make sure the community is happy, the parents are happy, but mainly that each child they transport on their bus is happy.

Movers 2
The plaque represents an ‘undefeated season’ of 135 school days incident free. Sarah Lawson/The Leader