Most football players forget about the school bus shortly after they ride to and from their final high school game. Not former NFL linebacker Troy Evans.
It's a sure bet that he did not foresee a second career running a school bus company. That's exactly where Evans, 33, finds himself this summer as he is responding to a $15 million budget shortfall at Lakota Local Schools that is cutting school bus service for all high school students and for kindergarten through eighth graders who live within two miles of their school campuses. He plans to offer yellow bus service to those affected children for a fee.
The cuts hit especially close to home, as his nieces and nephews are losing their school bus rides. Evans himself rode the school bus to and from school, more than just to and from football games, such as the two hour trips between Lakota and rival Lima. He said there was always a social aspect to the yellow bus that he enjoyed.
"Our kids we're going to lose that," he added. "I decided to do something about it. It was more about helping the people out in the district, providing them a service I knew was needed. Whatever it becomes, it becomes, but I know that in order to do this you have to jump through a lot of hoops, cross a lot of Ts and dot a lot of Is.”
He added that his advisory team has grown over the past couple of weeks from two attorneys to 10.
Christopher Passarge, the executive director of business operations at Lakota Local Schools, explained that the cuts meet Ohio's minimum state requirements for transportation. About 9,000 students will be affected.
"Troy is looking at options to provide a fee-based bus service to parents that have students that are not eligible for district-provided service," he said. "This proposed service is independent of anything the district can support."
The district continues to contract with Petermann Bus Ltd. to provide school bus service to eligible students. Evans' new company, LBS Bus Service, would work directly with other parents who are interested in paying directly for school bus rides during the 2011-2012 school year, reportedly in the neighborhood of $10 per week per child. Evans said his price point is extremely competitive with that offered by other local school bus contractors.
Enrollment in the service begins in July.
"If he can provide a service to our community that is desired, we would support him like we would any other business partner we have in our district," Passarge added.
Evans' new company must meet state and federal requirements for certifying school bus drivers, including CDLs with school bus passenger endorsements, drug and alcohol screenings, law enforcement background checks, and classroom and behind-the-wheel training. He said his main focus is on safety.
"That will be in place before one driver steps in one bus," said Evans, adding that he was negotiating bus purchas costs.
Evans broke into the NFL in 2001 with the St. Louis Rams as a practice-squad player and landed the next season with the Houston Texans. He played 72 games there before joining New Orleans in the 2007 season and was a special teams captain for the Saints in 2008 and 2009. Evans called the pre-game coin toss before a 31-17 victory over the Indianapolis Colts in Super Bowl XLIV.