NEWS RELEASES 2011-12 :: MAY 24, 2012


After navigating a big yellow school bus through an obstacle course that tested drivers' skills in mastering a diminishing clearance, backing, making a tight turn and parallel parking, Mitch Banner from Avery County Schools was named the best school bus driver in North Carolina at the annual State School Bus ROADeo held today in Raleigh.

The other top nine drivers in the competition in order of finish were Billy McKemey (Wake County Schools), Sharon Miller (Davie County Schools), Charles Mantie (Jones County Schools), Chris Owens (Sampson County Schools), Jeff Mellen (Wake County Schools), Boyce Chapman (Cabarrus County Schools), Alex Wright (Union County Schools), Lonnie Christenbury (Cabarrus County Schools) and Tracy Rayborn (Buncombe County Schools.)

Banner received a $500 cash prize and a trip to represent the state in the national school bus driving competition this summer in Milwaukee, Wis. The 2nd through 4th place finishers received $250, $150 and $100, respectively. Fifth through 10th place finishers won $50.

A total of 46 school bus drivers participated in the final testing and driving competition to name the top school bus driver in North Carolina.  Each of the 46 contestants advanced to the state finals by placing in the top 10 of a regional competition.  Most regional participants also advanced through a local ROADeo sponsored by their local school system.

In North Carolina, 785,000 public school students ride one of the state's 13,700 school buses every school day. School buses contribute to a statewide community savings of $245 million and 67 million gallons of fuel. The nation's school bus system eliminates the need for 17.3 million cars and 2.3 billion gallons of fuel annually. Additionally, according to the National Academy of Sciences, a child is over 13 times safer in a school bus than the average of other ways to get to and from school.

The North Carolina Pupil Transportation Association, the Division of Motor Vehicles, the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction's Transportation Services Section and Wake County Public School System's Transportation Department sponsor the annual State School Bus ROADeo.

About the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction:
The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction provides leadership to 115 local public school districts and 160 charter schools serving over 1.5 million students in kindergarten through high school graduation. The agency is responsible for all aspects of the state's public school system and works under the direction of the North Carolina State Board of Education.

For more information:
NCDPI Communication and Information Division, 919.807.3450.