Florida to Train 1600 School Bus Drivers
published on December 08, 2016 by Sonia Mastros
One of the most critical --and often overlooked-- areas of school transportation systems is the problem of maintaining high standards and high morale among school bus drivers. It's a high stress and often seemingly thankless job, yet an absolutely vital position in any school district.
This is something the Hillsborough County Public School District (HCPSD) in Florida is uncomfortably familiar with. Theirs is a district which has faced problems with bus transportation for years, and much of it directly relating to issues surrounding their school bus drivers. Multiple audits over the years have shown that their drivers were underpaid, undertrained, undersupported, and suffered from poor morale. Accordingly, the district has also faced a chronic shortage of drivers, compounding all these problems.
However, things may be turning around for this district. They recently held a massive training event for their school bus drivers and other transportation employees, specifically trying to address these issues. While hopefully your district isn't in similarly poor condition, HCPSD can still provide a valuable example for any transportation director looking to keep their drivers safe and happy.
Keeping Morale High Among Your School Bus Drivers
1. Emphasize the importance of their job.
When it comes down to it, there may be NO single job title anywhere in a school district which is more directly concerned with student safety than school bus driver. Every day, bus drivers take direct responsibility for the safe delivery of millions of students across the country, and every perfect route driven is a true success.
Emphasize this. Reward this. Make sure your drivers understand that you, the district, and parents truly appreciate their hard work keeping students safe.
2. Provide plenty of administrative support.
A district which makes drivers feel they don't have enough support, especially in matters of bus discipline, is one which is going to have a morale problem among its drivers. School bus discipline is something that should be taken very seriously. A bus with discipline problems is going to create distracted drivers, and distracted drivers are more likely to have accidents. That's not something anyone wants to see.
3. Keep giving ongoing training.
Just like HCPSD, stay on top of your drivers' training. Even if you don't rent out an entire fairground, be certain they get plenty of refresher courses and opportunities to give feedback on the training they've received. It helps them feel needed, as well as ensuring they're in peak condition for safe driving.
4. Consider student ridership monitoring systems.
A combination of GPS and RFID systems can create a great safety net for your drivers, reducing their need to manually manage and oversee individual student ridership. You'll both get more information on which students are riding and when, reducing the chances of a mishap.
For more information on how tracking systems combined with planned routes using school bus routing software can work for your district, contact BusBoss today.
How do you keep driver morale high in your school district? Please share with us in the comments below!Photo courtesy of Richard Thornton / Shutterstock.com.