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February 04, 2014  |   Comments (1)   |   Post a comment

Team stays proactive to maintain safe service

From its school bus maintenance to its driver training, the transportation employees at Forest Hills Public Schools in Grand Rapids, Mich., look ahead and analyze information to identify potential problems or areas that need improvement.

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In months when salt is used on the roads, buses are brought in every two weeks to be washed to help prevent corrosion from the salt, which ultimately extends the service of the buses.
<p>In months when salt is used on the roads, buses are brought in every two weeks to be washed to help prevent corrosion from the salt, which ultimately extends the service of the buses.</p>

Active pupil transportation career
Hofstra’s pupil transportation career has spanned 25 years, and he has held nearly every position possible, from school bus driver to dispatcher to trainer, and he also did some bus maintenance and office work early in his career.

He became a bus driver in 1988 while he was working at Gull Lake Community Schools in Richland, Mich. He then moved to Portage (Mich.) Public Schools, where he took on many roles in addition to school bus driver, and at Lansing (Mich.) School District, he served as transportation supervisor until 2004.

“Forest Hills is one of the premier school districts in our area and in our state, so I was very pleased and proud to be hired as their supervisor of transportation,” Hofstra says.

Hofstra has also been active in Michigan’s pupil transportation community: He’s been an MAPT member for more than 15 years, and he’s served in various capacities in the association, from a regional representative to a board member to, most recently, president. (He’s now immediate past president.)

He says he likes his staff to get involved with MAPT activities as much as possible, so he often sends his technicians and school bus driver trainers to courses offered by the association. Hofstra says that the association does not currently offer a lot in terms of courses for school bus drivers, but that is a goal.

“While I was in office [as president of MAPT], one of the things we talked about is offering more training for bus drivers,” he says.

Seeking out future leaders
Hofstra also acknowledges the value of providing learning opportunities for young people who are interested in working in pupil transportation, either at an administrative level or in maintenance, especially since industry veterans are retiring.

One way to recruit future yellow bus leaders is through internships. Forest Hills Public Schools doesn’t currently offer transportation- or maintenance-related internships for students, but Hofstra did mentor a student several years ago.

The student — named Houston — spent time learning about the pupil transportation industry from Hofstra from the time he was in seventh grade to the end of high school. Houston, now 21, still stays in touch with Hofstra, who says Houston is interested in becoming a transportation director.      

“It’s important, and it’s something that more of us should focus on — myself included,” Hofstra says of taking time to nurture interest in pupil transportation.

He notes that attending job fairs is another way that he and his colleagues can reach out to students and others to inform them about working in the industry.


Fleet Facts

School buses: 80
Transportation staff: 89
Students transported: 6,000
Schools served: 14
Area of service: 65 square miles


Student safety signal video   
School bus driver Dick Teft demonstrates and explains the signal used at Forest Hills Public Schools to help students safely cross the street prior to boarding or after disembarking the school bus. To view the video, go here.

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Read more about: driver training, Great Fleets, Michigan, preventive maintenance

very Cool I ould like more info on your program!!!! I am alays looking for better ways to maintain my bus fleet.

Chip Artlip    |    Feb 27, 2014 03:36 AM

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