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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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DeKalb County Schools — Tucker, Ga.

Submitted by Lenny Webb, assistant director

An evaluation of the field trip operation revealed that an excessive amount of time was being consumed by manually typing trip completion information into the STIMS tracking system. This lost-time problem was resolved by implementing a mechanized method of inputting data through the use of an optical mark reader system.

After each trip, school bus drivers “bubble in” specifics of the trip on a specially designed form. Forms, given to managers for quality control and approval, are then routed to the Field Trip Unit (FTU).

FTU personnel accumulate forms and run them through the scanner. In only minutes, forms are scanned, and the resulting data is loaded into the STIMS program, where it is processed.

With minimal effort, hundreds of trips are processed in STIMS, typing errors are reduced and the exhaustive effort of typing literally thousands of keystrokes is eliminated. Time saved by using this system is better utilized for analysis and support. We’re confident that this system ensures better utilization of resources and enables a higher level of service.


Gwinnett County Public Schools — Lawrenceville, Ga.

Submitted by Grant Reppert, transportation director

By using state professional development funds, we have been able to contract with the Pupil Transportation Safety Institute (PTSI) to develop up to 25 two-hour training modules. We teach our drivers three modules per year.

PTSI also provides other valuable services in our partnership, such as leadership development training, national standards/best practices and others.

Currently, PTSI is developing a national certification program for bus drivers through our partnership. I hope to use this national certification as a lever within the educational community to raise the recognition and compensation of my drivers.


Prince George’s County Public Schools — Upper Marlboro, Md.

Submitted by Michael Dodson, transportation director

Since early 2003, we’ve been busy retooling the way we conduct many of our day-to-day functions.

In March 2003, I began to look at the many facets of the department and develop a plan for the future. After identifying the needs of the department, I set in place a reorganization plan that would address the needs of students, parents, educators and board members.

With a plan in hand, I challenged my staff to build a transportation department that could be a model for systems throughout the country. As a result of the reorganization plan, specialized positions were created to focus on critical areas to increase departmental efficiency.

One of the enhancements was the creation of a Transportation Academy. The objective of the academy is to further the education of those employees interested in advancing their career in the field of pupil transportation.

Another priority for the department was the installation of GPS cell phones on the entire fleet of buses. The system is designed to provide real-time locations of all school buses in the fleet. This information can be used to aid in the daily operations, such as informing parents of a late bus or notifying school-based staff of a bus arrival time. The system also allows for detailed analysis of the routing system that provides directions for the school buses.

In December, the transportation department will begin to implement a host of enhancements to its training department. “Training 2010” will be a new approach to the way the department trains new hires and current employees. Every aspect of the training process is being reviewed, and adjustments are being made in the areas that may fall short. By setting a date of 2010, the department has positioned itself to meet the ever-changing demands of pupil transportation. One of the benefits of this initiative will be the ability to retain the dedicated professionals who transport our students each day, as well as to continue recruiting the best possible candidates.

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