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Kenton County's Asst. Superintendent can drive the bus!

KENTON COUNTY, Ky. (Joe Webb) -- There are few things scarier than putting your child on the school bus for the first time.
Thousands of tri-state parents are going through those tense moments over the next few weeks.  In Kenton County they have the comfort of knowing bus drivers are being managed by an educator who knows first-hand the challenges of taking children to school.

In her career, assistant Kenton County Superintendent, Dr. Kim Banta, has learned her way around a classroom, a principal's office and the central office.  Now she knows her way around a school bus.  When district transportation was added to her responsibilities she went back to school.

"So I got my physical, took the test, studied, got my CDL and then got trained to drive a bus," Dr. Banta said.
Dr. Banta said she took the extra step of getting licensed because it was the right thing to do.  She said she now understands the stress level her drivers feel.  And understands some obscure details like why overtime pay is needed to start buses early on frigid mornings.

"I feel like I can speak more intelligently to people who ask about the money being spent.  I feel like if I didn't do these things I might not have as good a 'radar' on the money," Banta explained.
Her trainer said she's developed into an excellent driver.  But the real benefit was the message she sent.  The other drivers know the boss can drive.

"Her time is obviously valuable and she cared enough about us to know what we do so she could direct us properly through leadership. It's meant a lot to the whole department," said Kenton County bus driver, Paula Allen.
In the coming weeks, hundreds of tri-state 5-year-olds will be getting on a school bus for the first time.  It's scary for many children and parents. Tom and Lisa Benson's daughter started kindergarten in Kenton County Wednesday, August 13.  They find some comfort in knowing the boss is literally on the bus.

Tom Benson told Local 12, "It's one thing to do surveys and ride alongs.  It's another thing to take the ownership of really getting to know what it's like behind the wheel.  And it does make me feel a little more comfortable about putting my little girl on the bus know that the assistant superintendent is part of the process in  such a big way."

Dr. Banta is currently certified to drive a bus full of adults by herself.  She is still in the training and certification process to drive busloads of school children.  She plans to complete that this year.
Doctor Banta said she's committed to complete her training to carry students but isn't quite ready for 3a.m. phone calls to fill in for a sick driver.

In her day job as assistant superintendent, Dr. Banta oversees 182 drivers, 185 buses and an $800,000 transportation budget.

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