When those of us who work in the school transportation industry get together to discuss our profession, we correctly focus on things like safety, service and efficiency.
We take great pride in the incredible safety record of pupil transportation. We willingly accept the responsibility to provide excellent service for our students and schools. And we are constantly striving to accomplish all of this as efficiently as possible, to keep those scarce education dollars in the classroom.
Sounds like a lot on our plates already.
But beyond these remarkable accomplishments, did you ever stop and think of all the ways our profession has made a real and lasting impact on our world? Simply put, it’s about the kids! Our work has a direct and daily effect on children with every ride we give.
Perhaps most important are those children who need some special care. Our work to provide high-quality support for children with an IEP makes a huge difference in their lives.
How about kids who don’t live next door to the school building? Our work has leveled the playing field and provided equal educational opportunities for rich and poor, urban, suburban and rural children alike.
How about those situations we call hazard zones? Do we just keep our fingers crossed, or do we step in with our big, yellow “hazard zone nullifier” (aka the school bus) and create a safe way for kids to get to school?
What about our country’s struggles with segregation in the 20th century? The answer was, of course, the school bus. Interestingly enough, the school bus retains a similar, critical role to this day, only now it is called “school choice.”
Does a child’s day consist of just that time from homeroom to homeroom? Not for the typical child of 2014. After-school activities, field trips, extracurricular events and sports all share that one common denominator: the school bus makes them possible.
What about working parents? Most school districts support some type of day care or alternate address accommodation so that parents count on the schools as partners in a safe and healthy family lifestyle.
Then there is the nagging reality that a school building does not move. Transporting children to accommodate the most efficient utilization of a district’s school buildings is a critical job that the school bus is called upon to perform all across this country.
And lest we forget the cost of all that’s involved in pupil transportation, let’s take a quick look at the numbers. The American School Bus Council tells us there are more than 480,000 school buses in service in the U.S. At a very conservative estimate of $40,000 annual operating cost per bus, our industry has a staggering $20 billion a year impact on the economy.
So the next time you are heading into work and already dreading that first jangling phone call, take a minute to put your job into perspective. Realize you are part of an amazingly important industry and that the job of transporting our children is indeed a truly noble profession.
John Fahey was in charge of the Buffalo (N.Y.) Public Schools transportation program for 18 years. He is now a senior consultant with the Tyler Technologies Versatrans Solution team. He can be reached at [email protected].