At Glendale (Ariz.) Elementary School District No. 40, we have one week of in-service training prior to school start up.
Our first day of in-service always kicks off at the district office, and this year, we had speakers that came from and session topics that included Valley of the Sun Clean Cities Coalition; human resources; recognizing paraphernalia and gangs; McKinney-Vento; blood-borne pathogens; how to recognize, what to do and how to handle bullying; nutrition; risk management; and team building.
As for the rest of the week, we cover bus pass class, radio etiquette, customer service, field trip processing, mileage reporting, office procedures, teamwork, and student teamwork and bus evacuations.
I think the most informational and fun part of the week is when our drivers compete against one another in a group effort for a pre-trip inspection competition. With identical buses, our mechanics create 10 discrepancies in the buses and then plant a simulated TNT bomb.
Each bus has different discrepancies, and the TNT is placed in a different spot. I’m proud to say that each discrepancy and each TNT bomb was located and noted by all three teams of drivers, each of which was led by one of our certified trainers. The winning team received a trophy.
During the competition, each team member has to push a wheelchair, with another monitor in the chair, through a slalom course, then onto the wheelchair lift on a bus, raise the lift, take the chair on board and tie the chair securely while judges watch their every move. Then the monitors switch places, undo the wheelchair tie downs, lower the wheelchair on the lift and go back through the slalom to the finish line. The winning team received a trophy.
Although we have these competitions during in-service week, we also have continued training throughout the school year. For about five years now, we’ve done what is called a “random.” At night, we place fake TNT bombs and red magnets throughout school buses. When the drivers come in the next morning and do their pre-trip inspections, they find them and return them to the trainer or to dispatch. We give out prizes to those drivers who find them the fastest.
Doris Bean is manager of transportation at Glendale Elementary School District No. 40.