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August 23, 2012  |   Comments (0)   |   Post a comment

Districts join forces, cut costs

Winton Woods City School District and Finneytown Local School District in Cincinnati share their transportation services, including buses, routes and fueling stations. In sharing special-education service alone, the operations have each saved about $25,000.

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Personnel from Finneytown Local School District also checked buses and prepared for state inspection.
<p>Personnel from Finneytown Local School District also checked buses and prepared for state inspection.</p>

Making it work
Hooper believes several factors have contributed to the success of her operations’ shared service. The first is the districts’ close proximity. They are only two miles apart, which makes it easy for Hooper to split her day between them.

While at each district, she makes an effort to have face time with all of her employees to keep abreast of daily activities.
The transportation staff at each operation has become more familiar with each other as well, and Hooper says they’ve really started to operate as a team.

Prior to starting the shared service, an in-service meeting was organized for both sets of transportation personnel, but Hooper attributes the familiarity and teamwork to working together each day.

“I think both sets of drivers realize this is what it takes to save money so that each district can run and maintain their own fleet,” she adds.
Hooper notes that the business managers at each district — Steve Denny at Winton Woods and Jim Acton at Finneytown — have been supportive and integral to the operations’ success.

“They make every effort to see that I have what I need, even to the point of offering to come down and pitch in when we have experienced office staff shortages,” she says.
  
Increasing bus video access, improving radio communication  
For all of their success so far, Hooper believes there is room for improvement at both operations. One of her goals this school year is to show the transportation staff at Finneytown how to access and e-mail bus video surveillance clips from their computers.

The district’s school bus technician will also have software installed in his computer that will enable him to view the video clips.

Hooper believes giving her staff these capabilities is important in terms of developing their skills, as well as from an efficiency standpoint should an incident occur while she is at Winton Woods.

“I don’t want them to be dependent on one person [to watch the video clips],” she explains. 

Radio communication between the two districts will also improve this year so that Hooper can oversee both operations more easily. Currently, she can monitor Finneytown from Winton Woods with a two-way radio. Winton Woods is upgrading its radios to meet the new FCC standards, and Hooper will then be able to monitor Winton Woods from Finneytown.

Moreover, software is being installed that will enable Hooper to see the contents of her Winton Woods computer while she is at the Finneytown facility, and the contents of her Finneytown computer while she is at the Winton Woods facility.

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