OLYMPIA, Wash. — After nearly 40 years in pupil transportation, from school bus driver to state director, Allan Jones is ready to hit the road (although not in a school bus).
Jones, the director of student transportation at the Washington Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, is set to retire on Sept. 29.
Jones began his career in 1977 as a school bus driver for Laidlaw in Seattle. He shuttled students until 1990, when he shifted to driver training and then, less than two years later, to an assistant transportation director position for Olympia School District.
In 1998, Jones joined the Washington Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction as a program supervisor. He was named state director of student transportation in 2002.
As state director, Jones has overseen transportation funding distribution for Washington’s school districts as well as the authorization of more than 10,000 school bus drivers in the state. His office also conducts training programs for school bus driver instructors, annual in-service training for drivers, and the state’s Pupil Transportation Management Training Program.
Reflecting on his career of 39 years in the industry, Jones ranks his 14 years of safe school bus driving at the top of his list of achievements. He said that state directors, like everyone else who works in pupil transportation, are ultimately there to help the drivers carry out their mission.
“We are all just the support team for the school bus drivers,” Jones said. “They are the front line, getting kids to and from school safely every day. I’m proud to have had a part in supporting their work.”
Another source of pride for Jones is having worked on the implementation of the McKinney-Vento Act transportation requirement to keep homeless students in their school of origin, which he said has made a “huge impact on the educational achievement of these kids that are going through tough times.”
For his efforts in that area, Jones was recognized by the National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth, which gave him an award for distinguished service and leadership in 2009.
Jones has also been involved in the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services, including a three-year term as treasurer.
In retirement, the avid backpacker plans to spend more time in the outdoors. “I’m going to camp, hike, kayak, and work on my photography,” Jones said.
His first post-work excursion will be a road trip to several national parks in Oregon and California: Crater Lake, Yosemite, Sequoia, and Death Valley.
Jones’ replacement as Washington’s state director will be Glenn Gorton, formerly a program supervisor for the state Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction. Taking over the program supervisor role will be Patti Enbody, a driver trainer for Castle Rock (Wash.) School District who has served on the state committee that develops in-service training materials.