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August 09, 2011  |   Comments (1)   |   Post a comment

Case study: Revamping a transportation department

A year ago, Jeff Walker became transportation director at Litchfield Elementary School District #79 in Phoenix. The department has since cut costs, reduced the number of student disciplinary incidents on its buses and improved its safety record.

by Brittany-Marie Swanson


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After becoming director of transportation for Litchfield Elementary School District #79, Jeff Walker restructured the department to createefficiencies and increase employee morale.

After becoming director of transportation for Litchfield Elementary School District #79, Jeff Walker restructured the department to create
efficiencies and increase employee morale.

When Jeff Walker started in his new position as director of transportation at Litchfield Elementary School District #79 in Phoenix in June 2010, he brought with him a plan to make the department more efficient and to instill a sense of camaraderie and professionalism in its staff.

His plan appears to be working. The district’s transportation department has cut costs, reduced the number of student disciplinary incidents on its buses and improved its safety record. According to Walker, who started as a bus driver in college and has now worked as a director for three districts, these improvements are related to the reorganization of the department and an overall increase in employee morale.

Staff restructuring eases communication
The first thing Walker set out to do was reorganize the department so that communication between drivers and staff would become easier and more efficient. Walker decided early on to make staff supervision an integral part of his job, and to create a student transporter liaison position, “which deals with two key aspects of our department: special needs and student discipline,” he says.

When Walker began working at the department, it had “two routing specialists and they were working together on different things,” Walker says. “We split them up so one was a regular-education routing and field trips specialist and the other one was focusing on special needs.”

This change, Walker explains, makes it easier for drivers to get the information they need or relay questions or concerns to the correct person.

Drivers on special-needs routes direct their concerns to Patty Reid, the department’s special-needs routing specialist. Drivers on regular-education routes contact Tommy Sims, the regular routing specialist and field trip coordinator. Student discipline concerns are directed to Tami Bellinger, the student transporter liaison.

In addition, the department brought in a new mechanic’s assistant and promoted the previous mechanic’s assistant to the position of fleet supervisor.

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Read more about: behavior management, cutting costs, driver training, efficiency, morale, routing, software systems

Mr. Walker, I read this article and wish other transportation people could see us the way you do . I like "student transporter" it does give you better title for the job we do . I have been in transportation for over 25 years your ideas are some of the fresh's yet simpliest actions I have seen. I wish you continue and hope other transportation departments notice the pro-active changes you have accomplished. Thanks.

brian s.    |    Aug 13, 2011 11:08 AM

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