Tips for implementing shared service
Hooper sees shared service as a thing of the future since so many school districts are contending with budget cuts. To those who may be thinking about sharing school bus service with a neighboring district, Hooper offers several pieces of advice.
The first is to think outside the box. “The way you did things in the past isn’t necessarily the way you can do things going into the future,” she says. “Look at your routes with an open mind, and think about all the different ways you might be able to save money.”
Hooper says it’s also important to talk with everyone involved prior to developing the partnership to determine what the expectations are, and to be upfront with what you think you can accomplish.
She also emphasized the value of utilizing the technology that’s available to the pupil transportation industry and continuing to improve your skills in using the technology.
“The best thing I did was put all of the students we serve into one database so that if there’s a problem, I’m nothing but a phone call away, and I can access the information and see what the issue is,” Hooper explains.
Telephone communication is equally important. She says phones within the facilities should be equipped with call-forwarding capability so that if staff is unavailable in one office, the call will be transferred to the other district.
Also in regard to phones, Hooper says having a smartphone is very useful because you can get e-mails “anywhere, anytime,” and she recommends having a phone plan with “a lot of minutes!”