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June 25, 2013  |   Comments (1)   |   Post a comment

Do I take the job?: 7 steps to making the right call

For transportation directors, moving to a new school district can be a great career path or a rocky road. Here are key factors to consider before taking the plunge.

by Michael P. Dallessandro

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I would not consider myself a big gambler. I would rather use my money to buy something I will use often or to pay for a good meal.

Despite that, every so often I will play Lotto or walk through the doors of an area casino and toss a few bucks into a slot machine. However, dice are not my game. I don’t want my fate to be decided by two cubes that have different numbers on them and don’t roll smoothly.

Accordingly, one should also never roll the dice with his or her career. So for those of you who are currently school transportation directors and are in a good position but are considering change, there are multiple factors to consider before signing on with your new employer.

For the reader who is a mid-manager, head bus driver, trainer, dispatcher, lead mechanic or other title and is considering becoming a transportation director, my recommendation is to take the plunge to keep your career path on track. Oftentimes, when you are seeking your first directorship, you cannot be choosy; however, the following points should prove educational for you as well.

1. Ask yourself why

In most cases, a transportation director who has worked for the same operation for at least 10 full years will probably retire from that same operation. Rarely do people change jobs when they have something good going on.

Occasionally, a motivator may be moving to a larger district for additional salary or prestige, or to build one’s resume. Sometimes, a sitting director may be motivated to move due to changes in upper management, a tragic event, a change in labor/management relations or a personal situation such as a divorce or loss of a spouse.

The most important step in making a successful job change is to be honest with yourself as to why you want to change and what you hope the change will accomplish. Remember that the basic principle of all of our operations large and small is the same, and if you are hoping things will be better by moving to a school district across town, you may find yourself dealing with some of the same issues you are leaving — only you may lack the years of knowledge you have about your current district, putting you at a disadvantage at your new employer.

2. Google me, baby!

When you are getting ready to apply for a position in a new district, conduct a Google search about the district and the key leaders, such as the superintendent, the assistant superintendent and the board of education.

You are looking for the initial pages of your search to turn up positive fluff pieces about school achievement, awards, community service, etc. If your initial search turns up controversy, scandal, negative issues, or budget or labor relations problems, I strongly recommend you read these articles and make your own decisions about the credibility of the stories.

3. Call me, maybe

Chances are you may not personally know somebody working in the district at which you are considering applying to be transportation director. But if you do, and if you trust him or her, call and say that you are considering applying for the transportation director position.

Ask this person about the operation and the district. Does he or she see any major issues coming down the road, or is there smooth sailing ahead? Keep in mind that this will be one person’s perception, so hopefully you know the person well enough to gauge his or her credibility.

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Dear Mr. Dalessandro, What an interesting article, well written and well thought out. You make very excellent points about what needs to be considered when either looking into a new administrative position with a school board or a position that is being considered later in one's career. It can be so easy to slide into the proverbial "frying pan." Knowing what you're getting into, realizing that you might not know all the things that are going on behind-the-scenes, and assessing your own willingness to step out of your comfort zone is an important part of assessing whether to move into that new position or not. You’ve made some very excellent points. Nice job. Thank you. Randy Mazie, Director

Randy Mazie    |    Jun 27, 2013 06:27 AM

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