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October 24, 2013  |   Comments (7)   |   Post a comment

14 phenomenal women in school transportation

In this new feature, we spotlight dedicated women from around the nation ranging from school bus drivers, trainers and administrative assistants to bus company executives, directors of transportation and state directors whose work helps to keep students safe.

by SBF staff

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Cinda Meneghetti says she feels blessed to work with some of the best pupil transportation officials in the nation.
<p>Cinda Meneghetti says she feels blessed to work with some of the best pupil transportation officials in the nation.</p>

Cinda Meneghetti
State Director of Pupil Transportation/Principal Consultant
Illinois Board of Education
Springfield, Ill.

How did you get your start in the industry?
In 2004, I was hired at the Illinois State Board of Education to manage the state’s pupil transportation claim reimbursement system. In 2005, I became the Illinois state director of pupil transportation.

What are your current job duties?
My job duties include setting up training for school bus driver instructors who teach approximately 28,000 school bus drivers annually; reviewing transportation legislation; responding to questions/concerns by e-mail and by phone from school districts and regional offices of education; meeting with transportation personnel quarterly (the Illinois Pupil Transportation Advisory Committee); developing curricula and training materials; and maintaining Illinois’ electronic system that tracks requirements met for all school bus drivers and school bus driver instructors. In addition, I assist with the driver’s education program and the district transportation reimbursement program.

What are your outside interests?
I enjoy sports of all kinds, gardening/worm farming, traveling and watching my 11-year-old son grow up. Plus, caring for my aging parents, who live in my home.

What is the best advice someone has given you, or what has been most helpful to you?
I have received wonderful assistance from many state directors; however, one individual sticks out in my mind: Peter Grandolfo. Peter told me on my first day on the job, “I want you to know that I am counting on you to make a difference, so you can count on me for help anytime you think I can too.”  

And I am blessed to be able to work with some of the best student transporters in the nation, and they are from Illinois.

What are some of the key issues for school transportation in Illinois right now?
Illinois is presently dealing with budget shortfalls for funding student transportation. Also, Illinois’ stop-arm camera law, which allows municipalities and school districts to work together and split the fees/fines for any illegal school bus passing violations and pay for the equipment and its installation, was signed into law in August.

What do you find most interesting about working in school transportation?
Two things I learned quickly about this industry are how little the public understands about what goes into transporting their children safely, and this industry is full of compassionate people.


Nicole Portee says she is glad to play for “team DPS” and is proud of her efforts to brand the transportation department, implement a shuttle system and roll out a districtwide bus pass system.
<p>Nicole Portee says she is glad to play for “team DPS” and is proud of her efforts to brand the transportation department, implement a shuttle system and roll out a districtwide bus pass system.</p>

Nicole Portee
Executive Director of Transportation Services
Denver (Colo.) Public Schools

How did you get your start in the industry?
I joined the Denver Public Schools (DPS) transportation team as the safety and training supervisor in 2003. Through great mentorship, support, and after working in various positions within transportation, I was asked to serve as the executive director of transportation.

What are your current job duties?
I play a significant role in ensuring 500-plus staff members work as a team to safely transport students. I lead the work of thinking innovatively and strategizing on continuous linkages of service models that support growth, staffing and customer satisfaction. I work collaboratively with key stakeholders within our district to enhance efficiency that supports continuous improvements of route optimization.

What are your top professional achievements?
My overarching objective has been to gather student ridership and school bus usage data that support analysis, which is needed to help drive change or enhancements to transportation services on the regional and district levels. This has been through efforts of branding our transportation department: “Denver Public Schools Transportation, Together. Forward.” I also implemented our innovative shuttle system called Success Express and rolled out our +Pass bus pass system.

What are some of your outside interests?
Spoiling my two grandsons, Quinn and Eli’ja’. I also enjoy singing, reading, scrapbooking, mentoring young mothers and working with my husband in ministry.

What is something people would be surprised to learn about you?
That I am an ordained minister and love to sing praise and worship music.

Have you noticed growth in the number of women working in leadership positions since you started in the industry?
Yes, I have seen women in leadership grow in many areas. I attribute this to women embracing the challenge, thinking innovatively about making change happen in transportation and strategically thinking through how to accomplish the goals of the bigger district initiatives.

What do you find most interesting about working in pupil transportation?
This industry is forever changing. While we are all different, we are also the same. We do what’s right for students, putting safety first. We all are striving for ways to effectively and efficiently transport students. We are educators and professional, smart leaders.

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Read more about: First Student Inc., NAPT, NSTA

Finally, recognition for the fabulous women making student transportation customer friendly and improving safety. It's about time First Student has a female leader

Anonymous    |    Dec 28, 2013 08:36 AM

Congrats to all the well-deserving and hard working women recognized in your article. I have had the personal honor of working for Mrs. Kathy Houck and can categorically state that above her gender, she is a phenomenal leader of people.

Lionel Pinn    |    Dec 12, 2013 03:43 PM

I am very proud to tell folks I am a school bus driver, I live in a small community and have 36-50 student on my bus. Thank you ladies for being great role models to us and for going that extra mile. Keep up the great work! Our transportation supervisor is Mr. Todd Naylor and though he is a male I feel extremely safe and confident that our buses and routes are safe. I teach bus safety at our school so any new ideas you have to share is always appreciated. So proud to be in this bus family in Davie County NC.

Susan athey    |    Dec 10, 2013 07:40 PM

Congratulations to Wilma Crabtree, Kansas is indeed lucky to have her. She is always willing and beyond able to assist anyone who asked. She is one of the greatest in the school bus industry.

Kim Grandon    |    Dec 10, 2013 12:57 PM

@ Miss Diana Hollander, Let me answer that.... It is your love and passion for the industry, your down to earth qualities when communicating with others. You wear these qualities on your sleeve. Perhaps these make you a Phenomenal Woman!

Victoria DeCarlo    |    Nov 07, 2013 07:40 AM

Thank you for naming me one of the 14 Phenomenal Women in School Transportation in your November issue. I'm not sure what I've done to receive such an honor! Although I don't know all these women, some of them I do and feel honored to be considered one of them! Thanks for the nomination and nice article and for recognizing all the fabulous women who work in school transportation every day!

Diana Hollander    |    Nov 05, 2013 02:53 PM


Ralph Knight    |    Oct 24, 2013 08:13 AM

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