Countless times when I have spoken with pupil transportation professionals, they have relayed to me the importance of communicating with their staff on all aspects of the operation that affect their jobs in order to safely transport students to and from school.

Michael Shields, director of transportation and auxiliary services at Salem-Keizer Public Schools in Salem, Ore., has frequent meetings with his staff that are designed to be informative as well as fun.

The drivers’ room is equipped with a projector and a screen, and each week, the district’s driver trainer puts together a PowerPoint presentation for the team. One week, for example, the presentation included information on bus drivers and assistant trainers who had recently joined Salem-Keizer Public Schools; an upcoming job fair; the district’s school bus evacuation drill schedule; the district’s progress in raising money for its school bus safety competition; and a reminder on the department’s procedure for handling notices of student misbehavior.  

The presentation also covered fun and heartwarming topics, such as food-related trivia, information on the current astrological sign (Pisces) and a note and accompanying photo from students at a Head Start program thanking their school bus driver for taking them to a pumpkin patch.     

Shields tells me that he also spends time once a month with several teams — staff from transportation, warehouse and delivery, and printing and mail — to conduct “Dialogue with the Director.”
“We share current and upcoming events in the school district and ask for input, feedback and rumor control,” Shields explains.

He says that some of the subjects discussed during a recent dialogue were school day extensions for inclement weather, the status of a new software project, individuals who had received recognition, summer school planning, revision of procedures for motor pool fueling, and meeting with the city to debrief on winter weather events.

In addition to these gatherings, Shields says that each team (transportation, warehouse and delivery, and printing and mail) meets weekly or monthly with their respective managers (minutes are kept and action items noted). Once a week those managers meet with Shields, and usually once a week Shields meets with the district’s chief operating officer.

“At each of these meetings we try to take the information and share it with others so everyone feels informed,” he adds.

What are you doing at your school district or bus company to communicate with your team? Send an e-mail to or post your comments below.

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Kelly Aguinaldo

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