Wikipedia tells us “A truism is a claim that is so obvious or self-evident as to be hardly worth mentioning.”
I think we would all agree that our work as K-12 transportation professionals is filled with truisms, concepts that are so obvious or self-evident that we might find ourselves taking them for granted. This post explores eight of these truisms, documenting them so that we do not take them for granted but rather hold them up as shining examples of our vocations.
There are many different ways to be a transportation director
I’ve known transportation directors who were on the street every day. I’ve also known transportation directors who never left the office. Both styles were effective. One of the great qualities of our profession, but also one of the great challenges, is that there are almost as many styles of management leadership among our ranks as there are transportation directors. There is no one-size-fits-all model. Our charge is to find a management style that works for us, for our programs and, most importantly, for our students.
Our job is to help children access their education
We have the opportunity to make a real difference in the lives of the children we serve. Access to education is a critical ingredient in the successful educational experience of a child. Whether we are talking about school choice, rural areas or hazard zones, the support we provide allows children to access the educational opportunities they deserve.
We are a downstream service
The services we are required to provide are determined by someone else. The Student Assignment Plan sets the stage. Once placement occurs, eligibility for district-provided transportation then defines which students we transport. Support for students with an IEP completes our service requirements. Our job is to take the hand we are dealt and deliver our program with the optimum of efficiency while maintaining the safety and service levels expected.
A route either runs out of time or runs out of seats
We fill a bus up with children or we run out of time and have to head into school. One or the other of these two conditions is at play with every single run we create. Efficiency depends on our skillful balance of metrics such as students per run, students per mile and students per minute.
Never leave a child behind at a bus stop
Only bad things can happen if we refuse a child a ride at the morning bus stop. Whatever the cause for confusion, the bus stop is usually a bad place for resolution. Drivers should always get the child on the bus, call in on the radio to explain the situation and then be ready to assist school personnel with a resolution once they get that far.
Take them for a ride
Children are safe when they are on the bus because they are under the protection of the bus driver and, more importantly, we know where they are. There is no worse feeling than to hear from a parent that they are unsure where their child is. Anytime there is ever a question or uncertainty with the afternoon drop off, the bus driver is always correct to keep the child on the bus, call in to dispatch with the problem and “take them for a ride.” By taking the child for a ride, we keep the child safe, know where they are and are in a position to make a successful reunion with mom and dad later in the run or day.
Safety first, schedule second
The temptation to not fall farther behind is great when the driving is slow due to severe weather conditions. Of course it is important for a bus driver to be on schedule, but that compliance can never come through safety shortcuts. Safe transportation is always the primary responsibility of a bus driver.
Parents trust us with the very lives of their children
Keeping kids safe is the most important job that a school district has. Every day, parents hand over their most precious possession to a complete stranger at the bus stop. Parents do this because the bus driver has earned that trust by the way they protect children every day of their professional lives. In many ways this is almost a sacred duty. How do we respond to this responsibility? The answer will take us the rest of our careers to accomplish successfully. Simply put, we have to earn that trust every single day.
We do well to always remember that ours is a noble profession. This recognition of transportation truths is a reflection of the depth and breadth of the daily lives of those of us who have chosen to call ourselves “bus people.”