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December 01, 2005  |   Comments (0)   |   Post a comment

Tips and Tactics From the Top 100

Some of the largest school bus fleets in the country share best practices in operations, maintenance, driver training and recruitment, and other areas.

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Spotsylvania County (Va.) Public Schools

Submitted by Kermit G. Shaffer, transportation director

Our emphasis has turned to security and safety. We have several ongoing training programs. We now train all drivers in dealing with student health issues. All our drivers are trained in CPR and First Aid. They also receive training in insulin administration and how to recognize symptoms of hypo- or hyperglycemia.

We also are working with them, through a joint operation with the sheriff’s office, on recognizing dangers on and around their buses. We have discussed how to recognize and respond to IEDs (improvised explosive devices). In conjunction with the SWAT team, we provided them with a demonstration of what to expect when a team “takes” a bus.

We have begun to install GPS units in our buses for automatic vehicle location. We have equipped 62 units so far and will expand it each year until all buses are equipped. We also are running a pilot program for Child Safety Alarm, a system that will automatically sound an audible warning (voice) for children to move out of the danger zone prior to the bus moving.


School District of Hillsborough County — Thonotosassa, Fla.

Submitted by Karen Strickland, general manager

We’ve implemented hands-on technician certification. They’re required to be certified by three master mechanics and approved by a supervisor prior to performing specialty tasks on vehicles.

These tasks are itemized by job classification. An example is a brake repair. Only district-certified technicians can perform this task. This procedure provides verifiable documentation that an employee has had the proper training to perform the task.

Our school district has also implemented a stringent tow truck training program to ensure that there is a documented record of the capabilities of the operators. The district’s two tow trucks expedite the ability to transport or recover buses in a fleet of more than 2,000 vehicles. The tow trucks are not used for vehicle recovery when buses are in major accidents.

We have converted all buses with the Allison MD3060 and 2000 series transmissions to Test Engineering Specification 295 (TES 295) synthetic fluids. This extends transmission oil drain intervals by 300 percent, protects transmission components, improves shift quality and extends transmission life.


Shelby County Schools — Columbiana, Ala.

Submitted by Jerry Davidson, transportation coordinator

One of the best things we have done over the past couple of years was to purchase a tire changer and a balancer. The initial cost of the two pieces was approximately $20,000. We made up for the cost of the equipment in the first year of use with the reduction of labor hours. Now the $20,000 we save every year can be used for other purposes.


Northside Independent School District — San Antonio

Submitted by Rafael Salazar, transportation director

We converted two of our older (1988) Carpenter buses into tow trucks at a cost of $10,000 per vehicle. In less than a year, we have saved our annual proposed contract amount of $6,000. We will recoup our investment in less than three years.

To find new employees, I added a human resources coordinator to our department. This person interviews all prospective candidates and also performs exit interviews of departing employees. In addition, the person arranges job fairs and oversees the recruitment process.

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