I hope everyone is enjoying a wonderful Labor Day Weekend! Last year we had a major transportation crisis when for various reasons we lost half of our staff, this year is not that dire but we are short staffed and I want to explain how that impacts what we are able to do in moving our students about the district. This week I want to write about Transportation and the impact it has on our school day, our extracurricular transportation and our staff.
We are currently two drivers short. In order to preserve our AM and PM school runs which is our first priority, our transportation and operations director, our office manager and our mechanic often are required to drive to ensure all routes are running as they should. If any other drivers become ill or have to miss work, it is a possibility routes may need to be canceled for the day or week. We have been avoiding this and hope we can continue to do that. I still encourage everyone to have backup plans for how you will transport your children to school if we cannot cover those routes. We will work to spread the outages as evenly as we can across the routes should that become necessary. We are also having extremely full buses as our ridership has greatly increased. We could add an additional route, but again without drivers, we do not have that option at this time. Buses are full. Positive student behavior is critical so our drivers can concentrate on the road. For safety reasons, we will not tolerate misbehavior or disruptive actions. Please support our transportation department by establishing with our children that this is a privilege, and it will be taken away if not fully appreciated. We do not want to invoke that but we will for the greater good of all riders and staff. Also, please recruit drivers for us!!
The next ripple effect of the shortage is on our extracurricular transportation. For our athletic contests, we will have to rely upon parent self-transport and carpools that are acceptable to you as a family. You will have forms to fill out that allow your student to ride with other families if you choose to allow that. The availability of buses again will be impacted as our first priority is school. Often when athletic teams need to depart, all of our drivers are out on PM school runs. When a driver is available, we will provide transport for that team. Be prepared, this will be random based upon availability. There is no preference for which teams get the bus, it is solely based upon which contest is when and if we have a driver or not.
Finally, I ask you to have empathy for our entire Transportation department. Shortages are very stressful for parents as they worry about their child(ren). Our Transportation staff is worried about literally hundreds of our children. They take this charge very seriously and devote themselves to training, inspections and certifications that give them the skills to do an excellent job. So, just as with a 24-hour rule with athletics concerns, short of an immediate health or welfare emergency, I would ask upset parents to invoke a 24-hour rule before approaching drivers or our office staff with concerns. It is a tremendous burden to manage high emotions with people. The level of burnout and exhaustion that comes with it directly impacts our ability to provide transportation for our students. Please consider the cumulative effect this has on really good people doing their best to keep our children safe. People do not do this work for money, power or prestige, they do this work because they care deeply about our kids and community. Please thank, respect and support our entire Transportation department to help us maintain our high level of performance and safety for our kids.
It is a great day to celebrate the Labor of our Staff in the Valley!