and forth through the lot,” Baczewski said. “Tat becomes an additional savings.” Amy Rosa, director of transportation for Wa-Nee Community Schools in Nappanee, Indiana, said last winter in her area was generally better than previous winters. “One, the weather was generally better. Two, our vehicles are in better shape,” she said. Previous harsh winters prompted her to evaluate her fleet’s fuel and made her a “believer in quality fuel.” “We spec a premium diesel fuel and hold the fuel quality to high standards. We have had little to no on-the-road, fuel-related bus issues since moving to a quality fuel program,” she explained. As a result, Rosa believes the district’s cold weather plan is solid, thanks to several weather apps and Webasto auxiliary heaters to eliminate idle times. “We currently have a protocol in place to make sure buses are in operating condition prior to the first morning after break. We also have sub drivers and buses on standby on a daily basis, as well as during cold weather times,” she explained. “We expect parents to dress children appropriately for cold weather and we use National Weather Service’s recommendations for time exposed to cold weather.” Weather apps are able to shorten school bus waits on frigid

days by allowing parents to track their children’s bus movements. In the Ankeny (Iowa) Community School District, Durham Services’ BusTracker is a difference maker. In the neighboring Johnston, it’s SafeStop used by Student Transportation of America (STA). A short distance to the west, the Waukee district relies on the SchoolMessenger notification system to send texts or emails to families if a bus is running more than 10 minutes late. “We have found SafeStop to be a great communication tool, as it allows us to be proactive in terms of getting information out to parents so that they don’t have to wonder where a bus might be or call into the office asking where it is,” said Katie McBride, contract manager at STA’s Johnston terminal. “Also, we can update SafeStop if changes happen on the fly with spare buses or new bus assignments, so that flexibility is nice. Te app is very secure, too, which is great, so only authorized parents and caregivers are in our system. SafeStop has been very beneficial for parents, passengers and school districts.” In Ankeny, Durham Bus Tracker is entering its third winter

of service. “Te app is successful throughout the school year, because it allows parents to see where the bus is at all times,” said Lucy Kalkman, senior vice president of Durham School Services. “When creating and designing the app, our goal was to provide parents and guardians with a greater sense of comfort and visibility of their student’s transportation and I believe we have achieved just that.”

GETTING AHEAD OF THE CURVE A growing number of school districts are relying on professional- grade data to track weather conditions and make more-informed decisions. Baron is a firm based in Huntsville, Alabama that delivers critical weather intelligence to emergency managers, schools, police and fire departments. One feature offered by the company even gives school officials a forecast for road conditions up to three days ahead.



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School buses are thought to be seven times safer then traveling by car or truck. This theory is upheld in part by the regular inspections by maintenance providers, as well as drivers, ensuring the safety of our passengers.

• Check the integrity of the seatbelts and seatbelt function

• Carefully step off the aisle flooring to ensure its secure

• Keep all roof hatch and emergency door hinges lubricated

• Daily evaluation of the emergency system, and seat-reminder buzzers, switches and seals will help ensure safe travels for all

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