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Texas School Transportation Innovator Mike McClung Passes Away

A former transportation director committed to student safety and alternative fuel technology died March 9 in Boerne, Texas. Mike McClung, who retired from Northside Independent School District in 2000, is survived by his wife, Barbara, children Christopher and Katie, five grandchildren and sister Melissa McClung Peterson. He was 65.

Born July 10, 1947, McClung was a leader with the Texas Association of Pupil Transportation during his tenure at Northside ISD, according to the district website. He also was instrumental in developing 1986 legislation requiring a crossing arm, or gate, on the front of all Texas school buses. The purpose was to prevent children from crossing in front of the bus in the zone where the driver cannot see them. States must individually pass the crossing gate requirement as the equipment has yet to be added to theFederal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards for school buses.

McClung began his career at Northside as an elementary teacher in 1972 and taught in middle school as well before he was named assistant director of transportation in 1977. In this role, McClung worked with then-Director of Transportation Richard Rhodes to convert the district’s diesel-powered buses to run on propane autogas, a less expensive and more environmentally friendly fuel. Because of their efforts, Northside was one of the first school districts nationwide to champion propane.

When McClung succeeded Rhodes as transportation director in 1985, he maintained that commitment to propane and became an expert who frequently spoke about the viability of propane at national conferences and state meetings. He also served as transportation director at Conroe ISD.

After he retired in 2000, he continued spreading the word about the benefits of propane buses. In 2008, Northside ISD became the first district in the country to purchase a new fleet of buses fueled solely by propane.

Last August McClung and his wife expressed pride when the school district recognized his contributions in a ceremony dedicating the brand-new Mike McClung Transportation Station, one of five centers at NISD.

“Mr. McClung, your legacy is still felt in Northside today as we continue your commitment to propane and student safety,” said Board President Karen Freeman.

Despite suffering from several neurological conditions, McClung attended the dedication ceremony with his wife, children and grandchildren.

“We are overwhelmed and so incredibly touched by this honor,” said Barbara McClung. “Mike’s heart was in Northside, and he loved being in transportation.”

According to the district, it operates one of the largest school bus fleets in Texas today, with 821 total buses, nearly half of which run on propane autogas.

Funeral services are scheduled for Thursday, March 14, at Oak Hills Church in San Antonio. Please send condolences to: 6929 Camp Bullis Road, San Antonio, TX 78256.

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