Jon McKinney

Lifelong educator hired to lead restructured Transportation Department
Posted on 08/22/2022
Jon McKinney

The Poplar Bluff Transportation Department has been restructured to require its director to not only maintain a commercial driver’s license, but be certified as a school administrator. The office will also be merged with a newly created registrar position.

The catch: To find an individual who meets the criteria, unique to public education, according to education officials involved with its creation.

Enter Jon McKinney.

“Collectively we shared a vision of what we wanted for this position, an unusual configuration for the Transportation Department, and we knew it would depend on finding the right individual to take care of our drivers as well as the kids,” R-I Superintendent Dr. Scott Dill reflected. "With Mr. McKinney, you have that classically trained education background with building-level administrative and previous transportation director experience."

McKinney has served as high school principal at Kennett and East Carter, as well as elementary principal at Naylor. For several years during his tenure, beginning in 1998, he doubled as transportation director, earning a 100 percent safety rating of his bus fleet from the Missouri State Highway Patrol at one point in a smaller school system.

He is working toward his doctorate in educational leadership from William Woods University in Fulton, where he also earned his specialist degree, in addition to dual master’s degrees from Southeast Missouri State University in Cape Girardeau.

"I think as a leader in an administrative position, you have to lead by example," McKinney explained. "Whether you're a bus driver, first-year teacher or paraprofessional, if you’re not climbing and continuing to learn in the education field, you’re falling behind.”

The plan is for the registrar portion of the position to ‘go online’ during the 2023/24 school year, according to Dill, when the office expands—pending board approval—in the new Administrative Building downtown.

“I have not seen those two positions merged previously, but with a district the size of Poplar Bluff or larger, there has to be that crosswalk of those two fields, especially on the transportation end, because it never runs as efficiently as it should without inputting the data correctly,” commented McKinney, adding that it “makes sense from an educational leadership” standpoint.

During the November meeting, the Board of Education greenlit the acquisition of a GPS-based transportation management system from Synovia Solutions, including the Here Comes The Bus app available for parents to track the bus location of their student(s) via geofencing. The software will integrate with Transfinder, the district’s bus routing system, “to create a more predictable transportation experience,” Dill announced. “This is a multilayered project, with the pieces coming together slowly, but without the right leadership, all the resources don’t matter.”

“Our thought process in crafting the position this way is that we wanted someone who has deep knowledge of the academic infrastructure in place who could effectively leverage the resources of the district in servicing the needs of that department,” continued Dill, pointing out that the solution came as the result of several years of observation. “By marrying the registration and transportation positions, we will ensure demographic data for all students is current, accurate and most importantly, usable.”

Upon being hired unanimously by the school board in May, McKinney spent the balance of the following month shadowing R-I Attendance Officer Misty Dodson, who served as interim transportation director, until her successor would officially assume the post in July.

“I’ve been around transportation for the majority of my career, having driven routes, am a certified bus driver trainer, and I spent five or six years as transportation director at two different districts,” said McKinney, noting that he still has plenty to learn regarding the scope of the fleet. “I’m thrilled to be here and am excited to see the drivers, district administration and patrons all working together to find the best solutions for our students.”


Cutline: A 24-year educator, Jon McKinney has been hired to lead the newly structured Transportation Department and registrar position of the Poplar Bluff School District.

Website by SchoolMessenger Presence. © 2023 Intrado Corporation. All rights reserved.