FREEPORT, ILLINOIS — Since it is Bus Driver Appreciation Week from February 4th to 8th, which here at FSD we celebrate as Transportation Team Week, I would like to share how our Transportation Team helps the Freeport School District be successful.
Our Transportation Department has many layers that the community doesn’t often hear about. The consistency and routine that school buses provide our community cannot be measured. Students are picked up on time, arrive at school on time, and return home safely at a specific time every school day. Traffic patterns fluctuate with the school bell, and rarely does anyone notice how something as simple as a school bus influences how we live.
The Transportation Department in the Freeport School District starts with a group of individuals that are up before dawn and stay way past the last school bell. The individuals in the transportation office prepare the routes, take calls from parents when children are sick, set up training and professional development for all the drivers, and handle emergency situations that may arise throughout the day. They are responsible to ensure that approximately 2,300 students are picked up and delivered on the correct buses on a daily basis. There are over 175 bus trips a day. These trips range from regular routes to alternative school routes to preschool routes, etc. The organization in the transportation office is what sets our drivers up to be able to complete their routes successfully.
The office personnel extends to the technicians that keep our buses operating in a safe and efficient manner. There are times when a technician goes out late at night to help a bus that is stalled or stranded at another location. These individuals keep our fleet up-to-date with regular safety inspections and repairs.
School bus drivers are some of the most highly trained and tested drivers on the road. They have the important job of protecting children and we should never take this for granted. However, these individuals also have an opportunity make a child’s day. Bus drivers are usually the first people to wish a child “good morning” and then tell them to “have a good evening” at the end of the day. They are the first ones that can help direct a student to a building or to recover a forgotten lunchbox. In the last couple of years, our drivers have also played an important role in our Positive Behavior Interventions & Supports system.
Bus monitors also have an incredible responsibility. Beyond keeping behaviors at bay so that drivers can focus on the road, they play an important safety role, from making sure that aisles stay clear of backpacks to managing emergency bus evacuations. These individuals are also the caretakers of the bus, providing a helping hand to students getting on or off the bus or giving that all-important smile and kind gesture.
Finally, another group not on the buses but that plays an important role in the safe transportation of our students is the crossing guards at each building. We have many loyal and caring crossing guards that place their lives in danger to help our students cross busy and hazardous streets. They are out in below freezing temperatures, rain, sleet, heat, and snow. Again, these individuals start our students’ days off with a “good morning” and end it with a “good evening”.
So, on behalf of the Freeport School District, I would like to say “thank you” to all the educators in our Transportation Department for ensuring our students are safe and for being truly committed to the future of our community.
The Freeport School District, like many other districts, is in need of caring, safe, and responsible individuals to be bus drivers, monitors, and crossing guards. If you are interested in taking on the responsibility of getting our children to and from school or if you know of someone that may be interested, please contact the Freeport School District Transportation Department at 815-232-0580. Bus drivers, monitors, technicians, crossing guards, and transportation office personnel are valuable members of the educational team here in the Freeport School District, and their role in our community is vital.
Dr. Mike Schiffman is the Superintendent of the Freeport School District #145.