RENO, Nev. — As part of its efforts to observe National School Bus Safety Week last week, Washoe County School District profiled school bus driver Dana Saxon, emphasizing his dedication to the job and his achievements.
“Although keeping kids safe on a large vehicle is no easy task, Washoe County School District bus driver Dana Saxon embraces it with passion. He even has a two-year perfect attendance record running for showing up to work every day and getting students to and from school,” district officials said.
"I just love kids," Saxon said. "They're the reason I do what I do. I have a lot of success stories. The kids I've been assigned to on my routes — they hang out with me and I see the changes in them. It's very rewarding."
For Saxon, ensuring that his students are respectful of the rules when they're on board his bus is equally as important as ensuring their safety. He described once having worked with a group of students who were taller and heftier and how he was able to resolve a conflict and earn their respect.
"In that type of situation, you cannot discipline them," Saxon said. "If you do, you're disrespecting them. It happened one afternoon that I let the others get off the bus and had some of them stay behind. I talked to them privately in a closed setting. I haven't done that in a year."
Saxon is one of 280 drivers at Washoe County School District, which also employs 35 pupil transportation aides, 30 fleet maintenance employees and other administrators, routing staff, dispatchers, secretaries and trainers who work with 298 school buses, 103 of which are for special-needs students. About 275 routes run year-round for students to and from school and drivers also make a combined 35 to 65 field trips daily for academic and athletic trips.
"Safety is our number one focus in the transportation department," said Senior Administrator Rick Harris, who oversees the department. "We are constantly looking at ways to ensure our children are kept safe while they ride our school buses. Every person in the transportation department plays a critical role in keeping our children safe and we appreciate all of their hard work."
To increase student safety, all buses are equipped with video cameras and digital systems that have helped to monitor and reduce discipline problems on the buses. Saxon's supervisor, Kelley Wolery, said the cameras keep kids accountable for their behavior. They also help to provide evidence of incidents that could happen on the bus, including altercations or tagging.
Washoe County School District is scheduled to retire 10 buses this year and order 23 new buses. The new buses are set to arrive in January 2011.