This is the first week of school for Redstone youngsters. And this is the first year that the city of Huntsville will provide all of Redstone's school bus transportation.

Redstone Arsenal shut down its school bus operation in phases last year, ending with transportation for elementary school children. This is the first year that the city will transport the elementary school youngsters in addition to the high school and middle school kids.

"We won't be doing the service. It'll all be done by (contractor) Durham downtown," Carl Pack, motor pool operations supervisor for Northrop Grumman, said. "I don't have any school bus operation anymore. It's all been assigned to the city."

Durham School Services, which has its corporate office in Chicago, runs the school buses under contract for Huntsville city schools. The schools opened Monday.

"We have the high school, middle and elementary (from Redstone Arsenal)," Durham router Betty Shackelford said. "We start the elementary this year, so we will be starting Aug. 10th."

Two buses transport Redstone youngsters to Columbia High, two buses to Williams Middle and four to Williams Elementary. There are about 30 youngsters on each high school bus and from 35-40 apiece on the other buses.

"The majority of the buses try to pick up at 7 o'clock (in the morning)," Shackelford said. "And we try to have them at school between 7:30 and 7:40."

Durham's contract with Huntsville city schools began in July 2008.

"We've got 132 buses for Huntsville city schools," Durham general manager Scott Gillies said. "We employ about 155 drivers."

Durham began transporting Redstone high school students in August 2008, the middle school youngsters in January and now the elementary school kids.

"It's just par for the course for us," Gillies said of providing all of Redstone's service. "We're happy to add whatever Huntsville city schools wants us to do."

Redstone parents can reach Durham School Services at 489-1025.

Barbara Williams serves as the school liaison officer at Child Youth and School Services, which is within the Garrison's Directorate of Family and Morale Welfare and Recreation. She provides resources and opportunities for Redstone parents to make a smooth transition to the Huntsville schools - anywhere from enrollment, to parent-teacher conferences, to special needs.

"We are trying to reduce the impact of this mobile military lifestyle," Williams said.

Williams said she tries to educate the schools about the needs of military children and she promotes parental involvement in the school. She provides parents tools to help their children in schools, which can include study guides, discipline advice and anything else to help the parent educate their child. She can be reached at 842-9642.

"(This week) represents the beginning of another school year," Williams said, "one that's filled with excitement for learning. It would also represent another year of academic success."

The Williams Middle youngsters can look forward to occupying a newly-constructed facility in October. The new building adjoins Williams Elementary which they currently share with the younger students. Avis Williams is the new principal at the middle school.

"Most (of Redstone's school children) have had a great summer of fun," Barbara Williams said. "They're excited about going back into a learning environment."

Adam Scofield, 16, enters his sophomore year at Riverdale High in Murfreesboro, Tenn. He is the son of retired Col. Brad and Gena Scofield.

"I feel like you get new classes with different people, meet new friends," Scofield said. "I'm looking forward to learning, looking forward to girls."

Page last updated Wed August 12th, 2009 at 16:27