During training sessions at Washtenaw Intermediate School District in Ann Arbor, Mich., techs from all 10 districts that are part of the regional educational service agency participate. Here, tech Mark Fazel performs pinpoint voltage tests at a relay, using a breakout harness.
Work with neighboring operations
Just as teamwork is important within an operation for technician training, teamwork among school districts can be helpful.
Washtenaw Intermediate School District in Ann Arbor, Mich., is a regional educational service agency. Fleet Manager John Nikolich says there are 10 school districts within the agency, and when technicians undergo training, techs from all 10 districts attend.
“We discuss problems that we’ve seen, and we train each other,” he says. “We’ve hosted classes here based on technicians’ input and needs. We also share tools.”
Nikolich adds that working with one’s peers can go a long way in getting what’s needed from OEMs and suppliers. “We require that OEM bus suppliers provide our technicians with onsite training as part of new bus purchases. We invite neighboring districts to attend,” he says.
Brevard Public Schools also often partners with neighboring districts and local agencies for training, according to Creach.
“We recently taught proper techniques to recover a school bus from an accident site where the bus was lying on its side,” he explains. “We ‘staged’ an accident by rolling a surplus bus on its side and then trained our technicians in the safe, proper way to recover, secure and tow the vehicle. We invited participation from other county agencies, such as Brevard County Fire and Rescue, to use the event for their unique training purposes as well.”
Utilize state associations
For a training exercise to help technicians learn how to properly recover, secure and tow a school bus after an accident, officials at Brevard Public Schools in Cocoa, Fla., staged a bus on its side. Local agencies, such as the fire and rescue department, were invited to participate.
Dewayne Ferrell, shop foreman at Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools in Nashville, Tenn., says that state associations can also be a valuable training resource for technicians. In addition to his duties at Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools, he coordinates the Tennessee Association of Pupil Transportation’s school bus technicians’ workshop.
Each year, Ferrell compiles information from school districts in counties throughout the state on maintenance-related problems they’ve been having, and he says he uses that as a guide for what will be presented in the workshop.
“I go to different vendors based on the problems people are having and get information that I can bring to the mechanics’ workshop,” he says.
For example, Ferrell says he reaches out to Thomas Built Buses, IC Bus and Blue Bird Corp., and representatives from the manufacturers attend the workshop to answer questions that technicians throughout the state have brought to Ferrell during the school year.
“They answer questions to issues related to specific buses and what’s needed to resolve specific problems,” he adds.
For more technician training tips, check out this Along for the Ride blog post.