The mobile security equipment and data management supplier’s products are integrated with Transfinder’s as part of the Marketplace, which is designed to help districts boost efficiency.
In the pupil transportation business, the challenges are many and not far between.
School bus drivers deal with unruly kids, sometimes unrulier parents, aggressive motorists and other difficulties on their routes.
Technicians often have their hands full in keeping up with maintenance on aging buses while keeping up with technological advances on new buses.
Directors and others in the transportation office have to stay on top of phone calls, e-mails and paperwork while making sure that the buses are getting the students where they need to go.
For transportation directors and other managers, it takes a wide variety of characteristics and skills to tackle the many challenges and run a successful operation. That’s the message that comes through loud and clear in our new “50 Top Traits of Great Transportation Directors” feature.
For that feature, we asked transportation directors to choose the traits they’ve found to be most important in their line of work. This brings to mind a related question: What are the top challenges they face in the job?
We asked directors about that, too, in the questionnaire for our 2012 School District Survey. Here are the most frequently cited challenges, along with the percentage of respondents who identified each:
1. Budget/funding issues — 21.7%
2. Driver recruitment/retention — 18%
3. Student behavior — 9%
4. Maintaining service level — 6.3%
5. Personnel issues — 5.3%
6. Driver absenteeism — 4.2%
7. Routing/scheduling — 3.7%
(tie) Bus/equipment replacement — 3.7%
9. School/parent needs — 3.2%
(tie) Special-needs transportation — 3.2%
(tie) Homeless transportation — 3.2%
Other challenges cited by some of the transportation directors include district growth, morale, maintenance and time management. The list goes on.
It should come as no surprise that budget/funding was the most commonly identified top challenge for transportation directors. In recent years, school districts across the nation have been contending with severe budget cuts.
In many cases, this has led to transportation service cuts, such as increasing walking distances for students or eliminating routes. Also, many districts have been forced to delay bus replacement and run older buses longer.
A comment from Lennie Goff, director of transportation for Regional School Unit 18 in Oakland, Maine, illustrates the significance of the budget crisis.
Goff’s top challenge is “dealing with the dire economic situations and trying to maintain the service that we presently provide. For the first time in my 25 years, I’m considering elimination of services, [which] I didn’t think I would ever consider.”
Al Karam, director of transportation for Bethlehem Central School District in Delmar, N.Y., puts it this way: “My biggest challenge is the budget. Transportation is now more than ever in the crosshairs of those looking to reduce the cost of education.”
In a related challenge, Karam lost his fleet maintenance supervisor due to budget cuts, so he now has to wear that hat as well.
He says that the added fleet maintenance role “takes 90% of my day, which leaves me very little time if any to take care of my drivers, office problems or give due diligence to my responsibilities as the overall director.”
Clearly, the job of transportation director is not getting any easier. It takes people with a healthy supply of those “Top Traits” — maybe even all 50 — to lead transportation departments through these challenging times.
Seat belts are among the topics of discussion for the task force, which is charged with making recommendations to the state Legislature by Jan. 31.
Colton (Calif.) Joint Unified School District students decorate a school bus with slogans and pictures depicting kindness, and district team members ride the bus to various sites to spread the message.
Terriel Price of Houston Independent School District uses her CPR, first aid, and cardiopulmonary training, provided by the district’s transportation department, after driver Liliam Lemus falls ill.
NAFTC’s Propane Autogas Vehicle Technician Training, which was launched at Blue Bird’s facility in February, is recognized by the Automotive Training Managers Council.
An Ohio school bus driver begins her morning route and is attacked by the suspect, who boarded the bus the night before, police say. Hilliard City Schools takes immediate security measures.
The Core Advantage Program is designed to help fleet managers cut costs by tracking and returning parts at the end of their product life for remanufacturing.
After ending a contract with a transportation company, Rockwood School District acquires its own fleet of 164 Blue Bird diesel school buses.
Dashcam footage shows an apparently impatient BMW driver speed up in an attempt to pass a moving school bus, only to end up on top of a concrete barrier.
The Texas school transportation agency’s event will cover such topics as safety innovations, emergency resources, training and education, and communications.
Amid a reported rise in prescription drug misuse and illicit drug abuse in the general workforce, school transportation providers stay vigilant with up-to-date training, education, and wellness efforts.
An event at the Governor’s Residence highlights school bus safety issues and recognizes winners of the state’s poster contest and safety competition.
The initial rollout will showcase companies in such areas as attendance, camera technology, GPS, fleet maintenance, and parent portal.
The New York School Bus Contractors Association holds a variety of school bus safety events throughout the state and renews its call for stiffer penalties for drivers who illegally pass stopped school buses.
NAPT and SBF are researching issues related to school bus driver shortage. Transportation directors and hiring managers are asked to complete a survey on the subject. The deadline is Monday.