Dion brings decades of experience to DLSP position

Staff Writer
Devils Lake Journal
Tom Dion is DLPS Transportation Director, and Leslie Elfman, the Transportation Office’s Administrative Assistant at Monday's school board meeting.

You would be hard pressed to find anyone with more experience than Tom Dion to run the Devils Lake Public Schools Transportation Department. He’s also in charge of the Buildings and Grounds coordinating a crew that keeps the city’s schools in tip top condition. Dion’s been associated with the district since 1985.

At Monday’s Devils Lake School Board meeting he gave a presentation about the areas of responsibility he manages. His presentation started off with what he called “the best bus shop crew” of Kevin Kraft, head mechanic, and Tim Eisenzimmer, mechanic helper. Dion said that although buses have gotten more and more technically advanced, they still can do many things themselves to save the district money, including their own oil changes and some minor repairs, thanks to the bus shop crew and their expertise. The list of bus drivers includes a number who have been with the district for many years and may soon be nearing retirement. Dion expressed concern about the challenge of finding younger drivers to replace them when they do. This year he said they are losing two that he knows of, Larry Liere (1997) and Lyle Hoff (1969).

Presently there are 30 drivers on the roster, all must have a valid Class B CDL with P and S endorsements, pass a background check and drug screening. They attend annual training and maintain a CDL DOT Medical Card and are subject to random and post accident drug and alcohol testing. There are 14 regular daily bus routes with a combined mileage of 1,250 miles transporting an average of 700 rural students and about 300 in-city students per day. They also provide preschool and special needs students with rides to and from school and home, rides to and from Sullys Hill for the classes selected to study in that unique environment and provide students rides for the 21st Century after school program. All that plus providing transportation to and from sporting activities and practices.

Then Dion’s presentation moved on to the multi-talented crew that takes care of the buildings and grounds that make up the system. “We have a great crew,” he said as he went through the slideshow presentation reminding the school board of all the things they take care of each and every day, year round. He highlighted some of the advancements they have seen in his department including a new radio system, a new handicap bus, cameras in the buses and seat belts for the newer buses. Superintendent Scott Privratsky and the board expressed their appreciation of Dion, his crew and Administrative Assistant Leslie Elfman for all that they do. “All our buildings are in good shape and that’s a credit to Tom and his crew,” the superintendent said.

The next school board meeting will be Monday, April 9 at 5 p.m. Privratsky reminded the board that 4 p.m. on April 9 is also the deadline to file for a position to be elected to the school board.