Photo courtesy Tamara Nelson A school bus slid off Adkins Road in Sterling Tuesday morning. No students were on the bus at the time.

Photo courtesy Tamara Nelson A school bus slid off Adkins Road in Sterling Tuesday morning. No students were on the bus at the time.

Slippery day for bus drivers

  • By Kelly Sullivan
  • Tuesday, January 5, 2016 10:57pm
  • News

Alerts went out for Kenai Peninsula Borough School District students and their families Tuesday morning after one First Student bus couldn’t make it down its regular route on Feuding Lane and another slid off the road before taking making any pickups.

A total of four routes that drop off at River City Academy, Skyview Middle School, Soldotna High School, Soldotna Prep and Sterling Elementary ran late because of weather and road conditions.

“As far as we know the kids all got to school,” said Pegge Erkeneff, school district spokesperson.

All afternoon routes were completed and no schools reported that students hadn’t made it to class, she said.

However, there was no morning pickup on Feuding Lane because the streets were too slick, Erkeneff said. She said she is unsure how many students live down that road.

The school district has requested that the Department of Transportation sand Feuding Lane. No further delays were be announced or required Tuesday afternoon.

A spare bus was sent for the students that would not be picked up by the driver whose bus went into the ditch on Adkins Road in Sterling prior to the start of the route, Erkeneff said. The bus was in a “park out,” which means the vehicle stayed at the driver’s home overnight. No students were on the bus, she said.

Tamara Nelson, who lives on Adkins Road, has two students that attend Sterling Elementary and Soldotna High School and said none made it to school Tuesday. She said she is signed up to receive alerts from the school district but hadn’t heard about any route delays by the time her children were ready to leave the house, which was frustrating.

Further, the path to and down the road to the bus stop was sheer ice, Nelson said. As of 3:30 p.m. the bus that slid off the road was still stuck in the ditch, even after there had been two attempts to haul it out, which she thought would take a crane to accomplish, she said. She believes the driver didn’t have much of a chance considering how icy the road was.

“When you look from your house and there’s a bus that’s off a 10-foot embankment, that gives you pause for sure,” she said.

Nelson said, regardless of the conditions, she still felt it was safe enough to send her kids to school.

A sand truck didn’t make a trip down Nelson’s street until after the bus was in the ditch. It is her second winter living in the area and said delayed sanding isn’t uncommon.

“My main point the borough needs to do something the roads,” Nelson said. “They need to have somebody come out and they need to have a sand truck come out (earlier).”

When contacted, Larry Fielding, First Student contract manager, said he is not authorized to speak on behalf of the company, but that at least two of the regular education buses were chained Tuesday morning.

The road conditions weren’t a complete surprise to the school district.

“We have had a warmer winter, so we are getting more icy days,” Erkeneff said.

She said the result of the season’s weather patterns has caused a few delays already. When it snows and melts, ice develops on the roads, which can be problematic, but is expected from time to time, she said.

The school district’s transportation department is in contact with First Student every morning, Erkeneff said. She receives alerts when any routes will be late and relays them through the various methods used to make emergency announcements on school delays and closures.

Notices are only issued if a bus is more than 10 minutes late or early, Erkeneff said. Occasionally a bus can be run late part way through the route, but then make up that time later if there are no students waiting at a stop for example, she said.

The school district can track where their buses are with the GPS devices installed in the vehicles, Erkeneff said.

First Student usually decides whether or not to put chains on vehicle wheels, but the school district has insisted on chaining the buses in certain cases in the past, Erkeneff said.

“It is an excused absence if they (the students) are not picked up,” Erkeneff said.

If parents do not feel safe letting their student travel to school, they just need to call and inform staff they will be absent that day, and that is also considered to be excused, she said.


Reach Kelly Sullivan at

More in News

The 2022 graduating class of River City Academy celebrates Tuesday, May 17, 2022, outside of Skyview Middle School just outside of Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
River City Academy says goodbye to 19 grads, 2 original staff members

Tuesday’s graduation was the last for two staff members who have been with the school since its beginning

Lawmakers from both bodies of the Alaska State Legislature mingle in the halls of the Alaska State Capitol on Wednesday, May 18, 2022, the last day of the legislative session, following the Senate’s passing of the state’s budget bill. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)
Senate agrees to budget, House has until midnight

With hours left in session, House members remain divided

Renewable IPP CEO Jenn Miller presents information about solar power during a meeting of the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly on Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2021 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Assembly OKs new tax exemptions for independent power producers

The ordinance was brought forth in response to a proposed solar farm on the Kenai Peninsula

Kenai Central High School graduates throw caps at the end of their commencement ceremony on Tuesday, May 17, 2022, in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
‘Make a great life’

Kenai Central High School graduates more than 75 students

A black bear gets into a bird feeder in April 2005 at Long Lake, Alaska. (Photo courtesy of Alaska Department of Fish and Game)
Watch out for bears, moose

Take precautions to keep attractants away from bears and give moose and calves space

Kenai Finance Director Terry Eubank, left, and Kenai City Manager Paul Ostrander present during a budget work session on Saturday, May 14, 2022, in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Flat mill rate, sales tax included in Kenai budget proposal

The budget proposal is subject to final approval by the Kenai City Council

Senate effectively kills restrictive transgender sports bill

Bipartisan group of senators votes to table controversial bill

Sen. Bert Stedman, R-Sitka, chair of the bicameral conference committee tasked with hammering out differences in the state’s budget bill, signs the committee report as members finished their work on Tuesday, May 17, 2022. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire
Committee compromises on PFD in budget plan

Members of the conference committee agreed Tuesday to a payment of about $3,800

Most Read