With the summer winding down, pupil transportation professionals in New York have been busy with a variety of tasks to ensure that students get back to school safely.
That’s the overarching finding of a survey that the New York Association for Pupil Transportation (NYAPT) recently conducted of its members on Facebook.
Across the state, about 50,000 school buses and as many school bus drivers will transport some 2.3 million children throughout the school year.
NYAPT used the survey as an opportunity to inform the public of the numerous responsibilities involved in safe and efficient transportation for students.
“Our state’s excellent safety record and customer service track record do not happen by chance,” NYAPT said in a press release.
As proof of that point, the association shared a sampling of the back-to-school prep work that members identified in the survey:
• Finalizing bus routes so that they efficiently pick up all the children who need their services.
• Receiving brand new school buses as approved for purchase by taxpayers in May.
• Conducting required two-hour school bus driver refreshers on new rules, policies, and best safety practices.
• Preparing mailings for parents about 2017-18 school bus schedules.
• Scheduling medical physicals as required by law to ensure school bus driver readiness.
• Completing routing for special-education students who need specific equipment or transportation to distant schools.
• Coordinating with homeless liaisons to ensure that homeless students are transported from their current residence safely.
• Completing CPR, AED (defibrillator), and EpiPen training for school bus drivers and attendants.
• Scheduling school bus safety drills as required by state law.
• Revising and updating driver manuals and handbooks.
• Getting the details worked out for new parent notification systems that use social media networks or cell phone capacity to advise parents of the arrival of their child’s school bus.
• Conducting “reasonable suspicion” training to ensure that each driver is not compromised by alcohol or drugs.
• Recruiting new school bus drivers to help mitigate the driver shortage.
• Training newly hired drivers to ensure they are licensed and ready to drive when school starts.
• Preparing for kindergarten orientation, when new kindergartners get their first school bus experience and learn about safety measures.
• Engaging with pre-K programs to ensure safe transportation to those program sites.
• Coordinating with child care agencies to ensure safe transportation to those services.
• Completing RFPs and contracts with SED (State Education Department) and private contractors for transportation services.
• Working with the state DOT (Department of Transportation), DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles), and SED to ensure that mandatory paperwork and certifications are in place.
• Completing summer school transportation services.
NYAPT also recognized the many people involved in pupil transportation, which also makes for an impressive list: managers, contractors, dispatchers, schedulers, technicians, trainers, office support staff, school bus attendants, drivers, vendors, and distributors.
“Each has a special role in ensuring safety,” the association said. “We urge the public to learn more about what goes into the school bus safety formula in their area. We think you will be impressed and excited to learn how much effort and commitment goes into school bus safety … for the children.”