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Examiner
  • W.E.E. Bus ready to roll through Blue Springs

  • It has been a long road to convert a former yellow school bus to what is now know as the W.E.E. Learning Bus. But after more than 18 months of planning and preparations, the bus is ready to roll.

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  • It has been a long road to convert a former yellow school bus to what is now know as the W.E.E. Learning Bus. But after more than 18 months of planning and preparations, the bus is ready to roll.
    “We wanted to do something that impacted the entire school district,” said Katherine Barton, with the Blue Springs Education Foundation. “Most grants are for individual teachers or individual classrooms, his would have such a higher impact.”
    The Women Endowing Education Group provided the Blue Springs School District with a multi-year grant to create the W.E.E. Learning Bus in 2011. The first of its kind in Missouri, the 76-passenger bus is now a mobile computer lab that will roll into Blue Springs neighborhoods four nights a week. The entire project will ultimately cost about $250,000.
    Twenty computer stations are onboard the rolling bus. During the day, it can be used by one of the district’s schools as an additional technology center. Another idea is to park the bus, which is also a mobile hotspot, at a grocery store or other business. It can then be used to help adults access GED classes or get assistance with job applications. At night, the bus can be used in the neighborhoods for students to work on homework, research or even ACT preparation.
    The bus will be staffed with volunteers from W.E.E., the Mid-Continent Public Library, the HOME Team and others while the bus is mobile. Although it has made a couple of trips, including one to Union Station, the bus will not start going into neighborhoods until sometime toward the end of March.
    “The school district gave us this bus. It was one that had been removed from service,” Barton said. “Everything, however, has been totally redone. Now it is a purveyor of educational opportunities.”
    Barton said while all of the interior fixtures such as the custom table and chairs were fabricated by area businesses, the work was done by the Blue Springs School District Maintenance Department. Hollis and Miller designed what the inside of the bus would look like. The district is also utilizing technology students who will be earning A-plus tutoring hours by volunteering on the bus.
    “What excites me is not the bus itself, but what this bus is able to do,” Barton said. “It is an opportunity for students to continue their education beyond the classroom, simply by using this bus. I hope it brings about more ways to reach out to our neighborhoods.”
    The W.E.E. was made possible through donations from several companies. These donors include Sprint, Business Information Services, Henderson Engineers, Mid-Continent Public Libraries, Double C Industries, TMC Hospitals, Siemens, Ad Trends, Hollis and Miller, Tandem Paving, KC Renegades, Cummins Central Power, Brian Unger with “How the States Got Their Shapes,” A2MG, Truckmovers.com and J.E. Dunn.
    Page 2 of 2 - The Blue Springs School District is also continuing to look for a W.E.E. Learning Facilitator and bus driver for the remainder of the 2012-13 school year. The driver will work with volunteers and staff to promote the bus, plan routes and programming and plan events and activities to not only promote the school district, but the foundation and W.E.E. Learning Bus is well. For the complete job description and requirements, visit the Blue Springs School District website at www.bluesprings-schools.net and select “Employment.”
    “This bus is far more beautiful than I could have imagined from looking at the plans,” Barton said. “The capability is the same. It is exactly how I thought it would be, but it is also quite pretty and striking to look at.”
    For more information on the W.E.E. Learning Bus, for sponsor information or for volunteer opportunities, contact Katherine Barton at kbarton@bssd.net or call 816-564-8287.
     
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