OSCEOLA COUNTY — With the first day of school a few weeks away, the buses have been inspected and the drivers are well trained. The only thing missing are the students.

Throughout the summer, school district transportation staff within Osceola and Mecosta counties have been busy preparing for the 2015-16 school year.

The Reed City Area Public Schools transportation department has been working hard to not only prepare the buses, but also to implement a new routing software.

“We used to have everything on paper, so we have been working all summer to format everything digitally,” said Becky Jo Wheeler, RCAPS transportation director.

The new software is called Poly-Plot and will be used to make bus routes as effective as possible.

“Over the years, the bus routes can cross paths or use routes that aren’t as fast, so this way we can see what is going on and reduce the time the kids are on the bus,” Wheeler said.

Staff also have been learning routes, training and working on the buses so they are ready to go.

“The drivers are as ready as they could be for the year,” Wheeler said.

Letters will soon arrive for families with information about bus pick-up and drop-off.

Now that the first day of school is approaching, drivers are excited to meet the students they will see bright and early each morning.

“The bus drivers are excited and ready for the year,” said John Boyd, Morley Stanwood Community Schools transportation director.

After school let out in June, the buses were cleaned, and in July, they received a state police inspection passing 100 percent.

“We are all about safety,” Boyd said. “During the summer we are inspecting everything from brakes to tires, to seats, lights and alarms. What needs to be fixed is fixed for the next school year.”

Morley Stanwood leases buses instead of purchasing them because officials believe it’s a better option.

“The cost to lease is not much different than to buy them, but by leasing, we receive new buses every two years,” Boyd said.

New families to the Morley Stanwood Community School district, or families who have requested information, will soon hear from Boyd about when and where the buses will arrive for student pick-up and drop-off.

The Chippewa Hills School District transportation department also has been working to train new drivers for the year as well as assign all drivers to their routes.

“Buses are critical for some families to get their kids to school and back every day,” said Jack Williams, CHSD transportation supervisor. “It can be difficult to get children back and fourth when parents are working.”